Australian soccer player says detained refugee is losing hope

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Former Australian soccer national team member Craig Foster talks to journalists after meeting Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee athlete detained in Thailand, outside a prison in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Foster called on soccer’s governing bodies to push for the release of al-Araibi while it weighs an extradition request. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok (AP) — A former Australian soccer player has urged the sport’s governing bodies to push for the release of a Bahraini refugee athlete detained in Thailand while it weighs his extradition.

Former national team member Craig Foster visited Hakeem al-Araibi at a Bangkok prison on Tuesday and said the detainee was losing hope after nearly two months in detention. Australia has granted al-Araibi asylum, but Bahrain wants him returned there to serve a prison sentence for a charge he denies.

Foster criticized FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and the Asian Football Confederation for not doing enough on behalf the jailed player.

Al-Araibi plays for a semi-professional club in Melbourne. He was detained at Bangkok’s airport in November on a Bahraini-requested Interpol notice. Australia has expressed concern about his ongoing detention.