Hakeem Al-Araibi Denounces Australian Support to Salman Al Khalifa in his Candidacy for AFC Presidency

2019-03-19 - 7:29 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Football player Hakeem Al-Araibi condemned Australia's support for the re-election of Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa.

"I was overwhelmed by the support I had from the Australian and Asian football communities who worked so hard to free me from unjust detention in Thailand," Al-Araibi said in a joint statement issued by rights groups Amnesty International Australia and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

"Today I am shocked and disappointed that the FFA has decided to continue to support a person who oversaw my detention and torture in Bahrain.

"How can he be a 'fit and proper' leader for football in our region?"

Professional Footballers Australia said its executive had noted FFA's position with "deep concern."

"FFA's support -- without consulting with key members of the FFA Congress -- is difficult to understand given the unity of purpose the Australian football family recently displayed to help secure the freedom of Hakeem Al-Araibi," PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said in a statement.

"The inability of the incumbent to protect and promote the human rights of one of the game's players in line with his constitutional obligations demonstrates a breath-taking failure as the continent's highest office holder and a repudiation and abrogation of the office of President."

The FFA was not able to provide immediate comment.

The Australian athletes guild also condemned the decision of the Australian Football Federation decision to support Sheikh Salman, who was criticized for not taking actions during the detention of Hakeem Al-Araibi after his arrest under a red notice issued by the Interpol at Bahrain's request.

Football Federation Australia on Monday issued a statement confirming it had agreed to back Bahraini Sheikh Salman in the April 6 election along with the 11 Southeast Asian countries who also make up the ASEAN Football Federation.

The AFC waited two months after Al-Araibi's detention in Bangkok to issue its first public statement, saying Sheikh Salman was not responsible for the case and that the Asian governing body was working with FIFA to try to resolve it.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster, who led the campaign to have al-Araibi freed from detention, described Australia's support for Sheikh Salman as "sickening."

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