Craig Foster: Australia’s Support for Re-election of AFC President Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa “Sickening”

2019-03-19 - 5:47 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Former Socceroo Craig Foster has described as "sickening" the support of Australia for the re-election of Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

"This is sickening given the circumstances that the nation, and football globally, has just witnessed in the case of Hakeem Al-Araibi. The conduct of Salman during the incarceration of Hakeem was unconscionable," Foster said in a statement.

"That Australia could even contemplate voting for such a candidate makes a mockery of any discussions of fundamental values within the game, of a commitment to human rights within football, the protection of players or of advocating for the highest of standards of sports governance."

Foster's statement came in response to the Football Federation Australia' statement issued on Monday in which it confirmed it had agreed to back Sheikh Salman in the April 6 election along with the 11 Southeast Asian countries who also make up the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF).

The FFA said it had decided, along with the other members of the AFF, that Sheikh Salman was "the best credentialed candidate" for the post, although Australia's backing would need to be confirmed by the body's board before the vote.

United Arab Emirates sports chief Mohammed Khalfan Al-Romaithi and Qatar's Saoud Al-Mohannadi will go up against Sheikh Salman, who is seeking a third term in office, in the vote at the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier this year, Foster led a campaign calling for footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi to be freed from prison in Thailand and allowed to return to Australia rather than be extradited to Bahrain, where he had been sentenced to 10 years for vandalism.

Al-Araibi was released last month under the weight of huge international pressure and is now an Australian citizen but the AFC and Bahraini Sheikh Salman were roundly criticized, not least by Foster, for their inaction on the case.

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