Hakeem Al-Araibi, The Refugee Footballer The World Is Getting Behind
Hakeem Al-Araibi may be a player for a relatively unknown club in the Victorian National Premier League, but this is a man all of football is getting behind.
"When he did come on board and he first got his opportunity, he took it," Pascoe Vale club chairman Lou Tona told 10 Daily.
'A very competent defender', al-Araibi played no small part in helping his side secure a top-four finish and a National Premier League final's spot.
According to Tona, he wasn’t only a threat in front of goal, but a tireless presence in defence too.
“He’s a hard-nosed defender, a very confident defender when he crosses that white line…always up for a battle with his opponent.
“He’d always put in a last gasp tackle, he’d put his body on the line for the team -- that’s probably one of his biggest qualities.”
Al-Araibi is also reported to have taken that graft and determination showed on the field into his detention.
Tona said al-Araibi's been playing football and keeping up his fitness regimen whenever he can, so he’s ready to get back to work with Vale as soon as he gets home.
Support for the detained footballer has stretched across the globe with almost a million people tweeting #SaveHakeem.
World football stars such as Socceroos legend Tim Cahill, Juventus and Italy centre back Giorgio Chiellini as well as former Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba have tweeted their support of al-Araibi.
Despite all of this support, however, al-Araibi's fate remained unknown as the Thai court prepares to hear from both sides in regards to Hakeem’s possible extradition to Bahrain.
He has been sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for allegedly being part of a group who attacked a Bahraini police station in November 2012, charges he denies.
Hakeem’s supporters argue that at the time listed for the planning of the attack (6 pm local time), he was playing in a televised football match.
Since his arrest, different claims have come out surrounding al-Araibi's arrest, with Thai authorities saying Australian Interpol had issued a red notice for the 25-year-old's arrest.
“Due to misreporting on the matter, the Australian Government would like to clear up confusion regarding the Interpol Red Notice issued against Hakeem al-Araibi… Australia never issued a red notice against Mr. al-Araibi,” countered the Australian embassy in Bangkok in a statement.
They went on to confirm that it was Bahrain who issued the Interpol red notice.
Al-Araibi fears that if he is returned to Bahrain to answer for the alleged vandalism of the police station he could be tortured or even killed.
Tona understands the position his player finds himself in and had one message for the talented defender, "Don't give up, because we're not giving up."
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Feature Image: AAP