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  January 27, 2019

(22 Jan 2019) A retired Australian football player has called on the sport's governing bodies to push for the release of a footballer detained in Thailand.  
Craig Foster, a former Australian national team player, visited Hakeem Al-Araibi in Bangkok on Tuesday and said Al-Araibi is losing hope after spending nearly two months in a Thai prison.
Foster criticised FIFA, football's world governing body, and the Asian Football Confederation for not speaking out on behalf of the jailed player.
He said Al-Araibi would like to ask the president of FIFA, "Where are you? Where is FIFA? Where are my human rights?"
Foster also said Al-Araibi told him he had played football with other inmates inside the prison, but had become injured in the process.
Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national team, was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.
He was arrested while on holiday in Thailand last November due to an Interpol notice in which Bahrain sought his custody after he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalising a police station - a charge he denies.
Bahrain is seeking his extradition.
Al-Araibi, who now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club, has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals, which puts him at risk of punishment by the Bahraini government.

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