A former Australian football player campaigning to free a Bahraini refugee athlete detained in Thailand wants FIFA, the sport's governing body, to sanction the football associations of Thailand and Bahrain if they fail to help.

Craig Foster, former Australian football player speaks during an interview with Reuters at an hotel after visiting refugee Hakeeem Al-Araibi at Bangkok prison, Thailand, January 23, 2019.
Craig Foster, former Australian football player speaks during an interview with Reuters at an hotel after visiting refugee Hakeeem Al-Araibi at Bangkok prison, Thailand, January 23, 2019. (Reuters)

A former Australian football player campaigning to free a Bahraini refugee athlete detained in Thailand wants FIFA, the sport's governing body, to sanction the football associations of Thailand and Bahrain if they fail to help.

Craig Foster submitted an open letter Friday to FIFA President Gianni Infantino calling for the organisation to inform Thailand and Bahrain of potential sporting sanctions, to meet with jailed football player Hakeem al Araibi, and to urge the sport's Asian governing body to issue a statement supporting him.

Al Araibi, a former Bahraini team player who says he fled political repression, was detained in November on arrival in Bangkok on a holiday. 

He was granted asylum by Australia in 2017, but Bahrain wants him extradited to serve a prison sentence for a charge he denies.

Source: AP