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Hakeem al-Araibi on flight to Australia after release in Thailand

Author: Helen Davidson, The Guardian (UK), Published on: 11 February 2019

The refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has boarded a flight to Australiaafter Thai authorities withdrew an extradition case against him. Thai authorities said the Bahraini government had decided to end its pursuit of Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 before being granted permanent residence in Australia, where he has lived since.

Craig Foster, the former Australian football captain and commentator...spearheaded the campaign to free Al-Araibi...The case has also shone a spotlight on the governance and international power of world football organisations. Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa, a Bahraini royal, was criticised by al-Araibi in 2016 when he was seeking election to the presidency of Fifa. Al-Araibi spoke out about Sheikh Salman’s failure to protect Bahraini footballers during the crackdown and while he was head of the Bahrain football association. Sheikh Salman is now president of the Asian Football Confederation and vice-president of Fifa, but has said nothing publicly about the case. When pushed, the AFC suddenly announced Sheikh Salman had recused himself from regional responsibility 18 months earlier.

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