#SaveHakeem, Shaikh Salman and football integrity
In our monthly e-news we ask the question about the meaning of football integrity08 February 2019 | Bonita Mersiades
One would have to be - literally - off the planet not to be up-to-date with the latest on the Hakeem Al-Araibi case. The images of him shackled, and being led to the Bangkok Court, crying out ”Help me, please! Do not send me back to Bahrain!” and ”Tell my wife I love her and to stay strong” on Monday are not ones to easily erase from the memory bank.
And nor should they be.
It is a case of all of us maintaining the rage and the action, through the collaborative effort of the likes of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Bahrain Institute of Research and Democracy, FIFPro, the PFA and through the public face of the campaign, Craig Foster and others including Francis Awaritefe and Brendan Schwab.
We've written LOTS about the Hakeem Al-Araibi case, not least because I talked with and met Hakeem during the 2016 FIFA Presidential election campaign via #NewFIFANow. At that time, Simon Hill also spoke with Hakeem and shared his story.
You can read our explanation of the true background to the detention of Hakeem, on behalf of Bahrain, from December here, as well as why this is an issue for football - even though it will be played out in the Courts.
Mike Tuckerman also had a fascinating and timely piece about the juxtaposition of the abuse by UAE fans of Asian Cup winners, Qatar, and the detention of Hakeem. Both are matters that the Asian Football Confederation should be doing something about - but, of course, they didn't and won't.
And this returns us to why the Asian Football Confederation election on 6 April is one that should be of interest to all of us, and shows that however much FIFA President Gianni Infantino might smile prettily at all of us, and they've made some progress on process, FIFA's culture hasn't yet made that gigantic sea change that it needs.
After all, if Shaikh Salman of Bahrain can pass a FIFA 'integrity test', what does that say to you about FIFA, football and integrity?
This is an extract from our e-newsletter, Football Today Monthly, published yesterday. If you'd like to subscribe for our monthly updates, please do so here.
#savehakeem, hakeem al-araibi, shaikh salman, fifa, afc