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Category: Middle East and North Africa

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Hakeem Al-Araibi: Thailand to free Bahraini footballer

Thai authorities drop extradition case against refugee, meaning he can return to Australia The Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is set to return to Australia after Thai authorities withdrew an extradition case against him.The surprise decision on M…

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Revealed: Lynton Crosby’s £5.5m offer to undermine 2022 Qatar World Cup

Tory strategist’s pitch detailed how CTF Partners would spread negative stories and press Fifa to ‘restart bidding process’Sir Lynton Crosby offered to work on a campaign to cancel the 2022 Qatar World Cup and get it awarded to another country in retur…

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Male golfers happily took Saudi money. Female players may think twice

Saudi Arabia plans to host a tournament for female golfers but athletes may have qualms about a country in which women are second-class citizensSaudi Arabia, a country that recently took the radical step of allowing women to drive, is now a stop on the…

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Friends of UK football fan detained in UAE call for his release

UAE official denies Ali Issa Ahmad was arrested for wearing Qatar shirtFriends of the British football fan who has been arrested and detained in the United Arab Emirates have called on the UAE government to allow him to return home safely to the UK.The…

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British man detained in UAE after wearing Qatar football T-shirt to match

Ali Issa Ahmad held over ‘false allegations against security officials’ after initial arrestA British football fan has been arrested and detained in the United Arab Emirates after he wore a Qatar national team shirt to a match.Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, a Bri…

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Hakeem al-Araibi faces further 60 days in Thai jail after extradition hearing

Refugee footballer arrived shackled and barefoot for hearing on Bahrain extradition requestRefugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has been given 60 days to prepare a defence against Bahrain’s attempt to extradite him from Thailand.The 25-year-old will rem…

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Saudi Arabia, sportswashing and golf’s daring sortie into enemy coffers | Marina Hyde

The European Tour breaks new and controversial ground in the Middle East this week, with Justin Rose among the players being paid up to $1m to compete in the Saudi InternationalIn a flawlessly manicured instance of cosmic timing, last Sunday saw Justin…

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Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention not Sheikh Salman’s responsibility, AFC says

Asian Football Confederation, which has come under fire for failing to call for the refugee footballer’s release, says its president was recused from overseeing the region 18 months ago The Asian Football Confederation claims its president, Sheikh Salm…

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Football must go in hard on Bahrain over the Hakeem al-Araibi affair | Sean Ingle

It is time for Fifa and the IOC to threaten serious sporting sanctions if the Bahraini footballer detained in Thailand and facing extradition is not set freeThere is a striking story in The Club, Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson’s new book on how the…

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Call for Fifa’s Salman al-Khalifa to step down if Hakeem al-Araibi is not freed

World Players Association questions why there has been no statement from the football body’s vice-president Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa should be disqualified from his positions as vice-president of Fifa and president of the Asian Football Confederation (…

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‘Please help me’: refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi tells of his Thai jail ordeal

Exclusive: In an interview with the Guardian he pleads for his release and says he fears torture and jail if extradited to BahrainHakeem al-Araibi, the refugee footballer from Bahrain who was detained in Thailand while on his honeymoon, has said he is …

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Supercoppa controversy rages over Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women

Protests over the decision to hold the Italian Super Cup in Jeddah have grown since murder of Jamal Khashoggi in OctoberWhen, early last June, the Italian football league agreed a €20m deal to play three of the next five Italian super cups in Saudi Ara…

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Royal Windsor Horse Show condemned for Bahraini sponsorship

Event being used by kingdom to distract from human rights abuses, complaint allegesThe UK’s largest outdoor horse show, which is patronised by the Queen, faces accusations that it is being used by the Bahraini royal family to distract from human rights…

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Manchester City fans’ defence of UAE shows sportswashing in action | Barney Ronay

Tribal loyalty has been taken too far when supporters pontificate on an area that has nothing to do with football as if they are debating an offside decisionIt seems an odd detail now but the first person to find oil in Abu Dhabi was the deep sea explo…

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The UAE is trampling human rights. Man City must finally speak out | Simon Hattenstone

The jailing of British academic Matthew Hedges is an abuse the club can’t ignore. It’s time to pressure Sheikh MansourWhat is the price of success? If you’re a Manchester City fan with an interest in human rights, it’s a crisis of conscience. I’ve been…

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Dress codes, empty seats and Xavi: football in Qatar – in pictures

With four years to go until the 2022 World Cup, our photographer Tom Jenkins has been to check out the preparations and take in a Qatar Stars League gameWorld Cup 2022: special report | The workers’ story | Xavi on Qatar Continue reading…

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‘Football makes miracles’: Infantino still hopes Qatar will share 2022 World Cup

Fifa president persists with 48-team plan for 2022Expanded tournament would involve neighbouring countriesThe Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, is pressing ahead with the proposal to expand the 2022 World Cup from 32 teams to 48, which would mean match…

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Qatar 2022: £40 a week to build the World Cup stadiums

Workers from some of the world’s poorest countries are being paid a pittance to deliver the football dream of the world’s wealthiest per capita stateThe men employed on building the 40,000-seat al-Rayyan football stadium were having their lunch, in the…

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‘How can I raise my daughter?’ Widow of Qatar World Cup worker fears for future – video

Renuka Chaudhary has said she is fearful for her young daughter’s future after her husband died while helping to construct a stadium for the World Cup 2022.Tej Narayan Tharu died in August when he fell from a high walkway at the £512m Al Wakrah st…

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Four years to go: Qatar on course for its improbable World Cup

Super-rich state determined to defy doubters as it presses on with preparations for 2022 but being in Doha for a few days prompts scepticismIt began almost a decade ago as the most unfeasible bid ever to host a World Cup: an outlandish proposal for “ai…