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Ex-player seeks FIFA help for jailed Bahrain refugee athlete

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A former Australian soccer player campaigning to free a Bahraini refugee athlete detained in Thailand wants FIFA, the sport's governing body, to sanction the soccer associations of Thailand and Bahrain if they fail to help. Craig Foster submitted a letter to FIFA's president calling for it to inform Thailand and Bahrain of potential sporting sanctions, to meet with jailed soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi, and to urge the sport's Asian governing body to issue a statement supporting him.

BANGKOK (AP) — A former Australian soccer player campaigning to free a Bahraini refugee athlete detained in Thailand wants FIFA, the sport's governing body, to sanction the soccer associations of Thailand and Bahrain if they fail to help.

Craig Foster submitted an open letter Friday to FIFA President Gianni Infantino calling for the organization to inform Thailand and Bahrain of potential sporting sanctions, to meet with jailed soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi, and to urge the sport's Asian governing body to issue a statement supporting him.

Al-Araibi, a former Bahraini team player who says he fled political repression, was detained in November on arrival in Bangkok on a holiday. He was granted asylum by Australia in 2017, but Bahrain wants him extradited to serve a prison sentence for a charge he denies.

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