Football Federation Australia has cancelled a scheduled training session in Thailand for the national under-23 team because of the uproar over the Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi.
The U-23 team, known as the Olyroos, cancelled the Thailand trip, the FFA confirmed in a post on their official website early Wednesday (Thailand time)
“Australia’s national teams are united in their support for Hakeem al-Araibi and we call on the community to continue to campaign for his release,” said a statement by team coach Graham Arnold.
The official FFA statement said it had consulted with Arnold and with the leaders of the national team, the Socceroos, before announcing the cancellation.
The Australians were scheduled to play a friendly match against China in Bangkok. The teams are competing for a place in the Asia Football Federation’s U-23 Championship. The Olyroos’ next qualifying match is against Cambodia.
Arnold’s full statement, issued by the FFA:
“Last year, the National Team Department had put some preliminary plans in place to play against China in Bangkok as part of our important preparation for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers to be held in Cambodia in March.
“On our return from the recent AFC Asian Cup we reassessed our plans due to the ongoing detainment of Australian footballer Hakeem al-Araibi in a Thai prison.
“We are in the process of rearranging our pre-tournament camp in another Asian nation.
“Australia’s national teams are united in their support for Hakeem al-Araibi and we call on the community to continue to campaign for his release.” – Bangkok Post
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