Contributor Perspectives

The Plight of a Bahraini Soccer Player Highlights the Connection of State and Sport

Tolga Ozyurtcu
Board of Contributors
Feb 11, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
Soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi, who is facing extradition from Thailand to Bahrain, arrives for a court hearing in Bangkok on Feb. 4, 2019.

Soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi is facing extradition from Thailand to Bahrain. On Feb. 4, a Bangkok court gave al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia, 60 days to prepare a defense against extradition.

(LAUREN DECICCA/Getty Images)

As the world's major soccer leagues pass the midpoint of their seasons, title races are heating up, with many of the usual suspects making the headlines. But in recent weeks, the likes of Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba and Lionel Messi have been joined -- if not overshadowed -- by another name: Hakeem al-Araibi. It's likely that even the most diehard fans had not heard of al-Araibi before November. After all, the former Bahraini national team player currently plies his trade as a defender for semi-professional Pascoe Vale Football Club, stalwarts of the second tier of Australian soccer. Unfortunately for al-Araibi, his newfound international recognition has nothing to do with his soccer skills, even if his fate is shaping up to be one of the major international sports stories of the year....

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