IOC joins FIFA to urge Thai government to send Bahrani footballer to Australia

The International Olympic Committee has joined FIFA and other supporters of former Bahraini national footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi in demanding the Thai government to free him from detention and allow him to return to Australia.

“The IOC supports Mr Al-Araibi and the FIFA position in this case,” the organization said in a statement released over the weekend.

The statement added that Thailand’s IOC member, Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, had asked the Thai government “to find a solution based on basic human and humanitarian values.”

It further said that IOC president Thomas Bach had personally discussed the situation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr Filippo Grandi.

Al-Araibi, 25, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly helping protesters burn down a police station during the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2012.   He fled to Australia and was granted asylum where he plays semi-professionally in Melbourne.

The former Bahraini footballer was detained at Suvarnabhumi international airport while entering Thailand for a vacation on an arrest warrant issued by the Interpol.

Last week, FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura sought a meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss Hakeem’s case.  Earlier in December, FIFA urged the Thai government to return Hakeem to Australia.

Hakeem’s 60-day detention is due to expire on February 9 when the Thai court is expected to rule whether to send him back to his home country or to his country of asylum, Australia.


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