The Professional Footballers Australia union has called on FIFA and the Football Federation Australia to explain their decision to back the re-election of Sheikh Salman Ibrahim Al-Khalifa as president of the Asian Football Confederation.
Sheikh Salman is part of the ruling family of Bahrain, the country that attempted to extradite Australian refugee and footballer Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison after the 25-year-old was arrested while on vacation.
Al-Araibi was released after an extensive campaign led by the PFA and ex-Socceroo Craig Foster, but Sheikh Salman, who would remain as FIFA vice president should he be re-elected, was heavily criticised for his inaction during the process.
And PFA boss John Didulica did not hold back in his criticism of the FFA’s decision to support the AFC president’s bid for re-election.
“The PFA is on record challenging the right of the incumbent to continue in the role of AFC president, let alone serve another term,” Didulica said on Tuesday.
“The inability of the incumbent to protect and promote the human rights of one of the game’s players in line with his constitutional obligations demonstrates a breathtaking failure as the continent’s highest office holder and a repudiation and abrogation of the office of president.
The reference to Salman’s ‘leadership’ is sickening. Failing to protect players from torture is not leadership. Failing to uphold human rights of our, and other players is not leadership. Leadership is advancing the values and integrity of the game, not only economic. We’re lost. pic.twitter.com/CapSpQwR9Q
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) March 19, 2019
“FFA’s support – without consulting with key members of the FFA Congress – is difficult to understand given the unity of purpose the Australian football family recently displayed to help secure the freedom of Hakeem Al-Araibi.
“We await FIFA or the FFA to urgently provide the basis upon which the incumbent satisfied the eligibility criteria notwithstanding the fundamental concerns raised by the PFA over his ongoing tenure during the period of Hakeem’s detention.”
The AFC elections will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on April 6.
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