Not such a beautiful game: Ahead of Bahrain-Thailand soccer match Amnesty International calls on AFC President to support detained footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

Bahrain and Thailand will meet today as part of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. But while the two countries vie for supremacy on the field, their collusion off the field means that the future of Hakeem al-Araibi, the Melbourne soccer player who fled Bahrain and was granted refugee status in Australia, remains perilous.

Dr Graham Thom, refugee coordinator at Amnesty International Australia said:

“It is time for leaders in the soccer community to stand up for Hakeem. Amnesty welcomes the news that the FFA has met with Sheikh Salman bin Al Khalifa to discuss Hakeem’s plight. As AFC President, Salman has a moral and professional obligation to support Hakeem.

“As a leader in Asia, and a Bahraini, Sheikh Salman is in a position of influence. And yet he has been conspicuously silent. By not standing up and condemning Bahrain and Thailand’s actions, the AFC is failing to uphold the values and integrity of the ‘beautiful game’.”

“Thailand must not be complicit in supporting the oppressive regimes in Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by putting individuals at risk of torture, imprisonment or death.

“The Australian Government continues to work with Thai authorities to get Hakeem home, but the time has come for the soccer community to join the fight and put pressure on Thailand. Hakeem will not be safe until he is back home in Australia. As a recognised refugee with approved travel documents, he should never have been detained. He faces torture and possible death if he is sent back to Bahrain.