Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster will meet with world body FIFA armed with more than 50,000 petition signatures demanding the release of detained football player Hakeem al-Araibi.
Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) representative Foster will hold talks with FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura at the world body's Zurich headquarters on Monday night in his campaign to secure Hakeem's release from a Thai prison. Al-Araibi has been detained in Bangkok for the past two months while the Bahrain government prepares an official request for his extradition over a 2012 police station attack.
His 60-day detention expires on Feb. 8. Amnesty International first launched a petition with an initial target of 20,000 signatures to mount pressure on Thailand authorities to release the former Bahraini footballer. Al-Araibi was granted refugee status by Australia in 2014 and plays for semi-professional Pascoe Vale Football Club in Melbourne.
Bahrain sentenced him to 10 years jail in absentia. Amnesty International claimed al-Araibi will be imprisoned and tortured if Thailand sends him back to Bahrain. Al-Araibi was detained in Thailand after Bahraini authorities initiated an INTERPOL red notice while he was on holiday in the country with his wife. Foster has led calls for al-Araibi's release after visiting the player in Thailand.
He said last week it was a seminal case to test the implementation of FIFA's recently adopted human rights policy which demands it use "maximum leverage" with stakeholders. He believed FIFA should threaten Bahrain with sporting sanctions if it proceeded with the extradition and also consider measures against Thailand.
"Mr Foster, who has been leading calls to #SaveHakeem, is carrying some 50,000 petition signatures and supporting documents that demand his immediate release," a PFA statement said before the FIFA meeting.
"Mr al-Araibi has been detained in a Bangkok detention centre for two months, facing imminent extradition to Bahrain, in a severe violation of international law and his human rights. "After a week-long visit to Bangkok in which he met with Mr al-Araibi and senior Thai and Australian government officials, Mr Foster will unveil details of obligations before football authorities who are under increasing international pressure to intervene in what is a major litmus test of FIFA's recently-adopted human rights policy. "Given updates obtained on the ground in Bangkok, the matter is now extremely urgent."