SBS: 'Hakeem is one of us': Footballers demand intervention for detained refugee

December 24,2018

Australian footballers including former Socceroo captain Craig Foster and A-League champion Rodrigo Vargas have demanded the Australian government and global football community do more to help detained refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi.

They joined representatives from human rights groups, Mr Al-Araibi's legal team and members from Football Victoria and Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne on Saturday to ask for immediate intervention.

The semi-professional football player is being held indefinitely in Bangkok after being arrested over an incorrectly issued Interpol Red Notice last month.

Mr Foster implored both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to "leverage their status as leading global institutions to ensure the protection of a member of the football family".

"Australia's footballers implore FIFA and the AFC to comply with their own rules of governance to demand the return of Hakeem to Australia," he said.

"FIFA and the AFC have a constitutional obligation to not only observe the human rights of their participants but proactively promote such rights."

He later tweeted, "Hakeem is one of us, football stands with him".

Mr Vargas, a former team-mate of Mr Al-Araibi said: "football is about building communities and building teams that protect the members that need help".

"Hakeem is an incredible young man and I have seen his bravery first hand as a former team-mate. The entire football community, from top to bottom, must come together to support him. It is what a real community does."

While Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute of Democracy and Human Rights said, "Australia granted Hakeem refugee status because they are aware of the grim future waiting for him in Bahrain".

"The Australian Government should keep their ethical, moral, and humanitarian duties for the people they accepted to protect."