Hakeem's story is about more than one persecuted refugee's fight against being returned to an uncertain future. It is about how regimes punish those that speak out, and how football and the Asian Football Confederation became complicit in that persecution.December 28, 2018
The chances are that you probably haven’t heard of Hakeem al Araibi. The Bahraini centre back plays for Pascoe Vale FC, a semi-pro club in Australia’s National Premier Leagues Victoria. But he was once considered one of the Bahrain national team’s brightest talents at a time when the tiny Gulf Kingdom was considered one of the best underdog sides in Asia. Despite a population of over a million people, Bahrain missed out on both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals after losing by a single goal in consecutive intercontinental play offs. But that’s when it all started to go wrong in Bahraini football.