FIFA demand release of Bahraini refugee

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 13: A FIFA logo next to the entrance during part I of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 13, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

FIFA have demanded Hakeem Al Araibi, who faces possible deportation from Thailand should be freed and allowed to return to Australia to continue his football career.

Thai authorities Al Araibi arrested him on his arrival at a Bangkok airport in November, based on information from Interpol which issued by Bahrain, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Christian Fuchs of Leicester City battles for possession with Joel Ward of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at The King Power Stadium on February 23, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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The Austrian international and Leicester City footballer was one of the first professional players to set up his very own eFootball team.

The refugee footballer was convicted of vandalizing a police station in Bahrain and was handed a 10-year prison sentence in his absence but has denied any wrongdoing.

“Following a renewed exchange with the Australian Football Federation, FIFA is again calling for a humane and speedy resolution of the case concerning the player Hakeem Al Araibi,” the organisation said in a statement.

“This player, a Bahrain national, is currently being detained in prison in Thailand awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bahrain, where he was previously convicted of a criminal offence, the validity of which he strongly contests,” continued the statement.

“This situation should not have arisen, in particular, since Mr Al-Araibi now lives and works and plays as a professional footballer in Australia, where he has been accorded refugee status.”

“FIFA is, therefore, calling on all the relevant authorities (in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia) to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia where he can resume his career as a professional footballer.”