Infantino defends FIFA from criticism over Bahraini footballer

Credit: Reuters - Sports
Published on February 15, 2019 - Duration: 01:20s

Infantino defends FIFA from criticism over Bahraini footballer

FIFA president Gianni Infantino defended world soccer's governing body over its perceived lack of action in the case of refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi, saying it had been working behind the scenes in the affair.

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Infantino defends FIFA from criticism over Bahraini footballer

SHOWS: ISTANBUL, TURKEY (FEBRUARY 15, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO, SAYING ABOUT FIFA ACTIONS DURING DETENTION OF BAHRAINI FOOTBALLER HAKEEM AL ARAIBI: "I am very happy and everyone at FIFA is very happy that Hakeem has been let go back to Australia.

I think the position of FIFA has been always very clear and as the FIFA President my position has been very clear as well.

We have been working for this solution through official channels obviously.

We have been working as well behind the scene but I prefer not to make any press conferences or any big statements I prefer to have results." 2.

WHITE FLASH 3.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO, SAYING ABOUT FIFA ACTIONS DURING DETENTION OF BAHRAINI FOOTBALLER HAKEEM AL ARAIBI "Everyone can have his own opinion.

What counts is the result and if somebody wants to criticise the FIFA President but in exchange Hakeem is back in Australia well then I'm very happy that people are criticising the FIFA President.

I would be much more unhappy if the FIFA President - just to be publicly recgonised - had made a big, big statement and in exchange Hakeem would have been jailed for God knows how many years.

So, I prefer that he is free and that the FIFA President is criticised rather than the opposite." STORY: FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday (February 15) defended world soccer's governing body over its perceived lack of action in the case of refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi, saying it had been working behind the scenes in the affair.

Araibi was held in a Thai prison for more than two months at the Gulf state's request before arriving in his adoptive home Australia on Tuesday (February 12) to cheers from hundreds of supporters.

The 25-year-old fled Bahrain in 2014 after being accused of crimes committed during the 2011 Arab Spring protests, which he denies, and received refugee status in Australia.

He had travelled to Thailand for his honeymoon.

"We have been working for this solution through official channels obviously.

We have been working as well behind the scenes," Infantino told a news conference in Istanbul when asked about criticism over the lack of FIFA public statements on the case.

"I prefer not to make any press conferences or any big statements.

I prefer to have results.

This is how we are working at FIFA," he said at the end of a FIFA summit in Istanbul.

"I think we can celebrate the fact that everything ended in a very positive way, and we are just happy about that," Infantino said.

Araibi had been convicted of vandalising a police station in Bahrain and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

He has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was playing in a televised match at the time the offence was committed, and was granted asylum in Australia in 2017.

Bahrain, however, sought his extradition from Thailand.

He was freed after nearly three months of diplomacy, legal manoeuvring by the governments of Australia, Thailand and Bahrain, and a public campaign by footballers and human rights activists.

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