Roos cancel training camp
FOOTBALLl Federation Australia has had to perform a rapid U-turn over an Olyroos training camp scheduled to be held in Thailand, amid the growing international campaign to have refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi freed from Thai custody.
Days after finalising arrangements for the Australian Olympic team to prepare for a crucial qualifying tournament at a camp in Asia, FFA announced the camp would be moved elsewhere.
With growing calls for Thailand and Bahrain to face sanctions over the latter's attempts to have Al-Araibi extradited from Thailand, plans for the Australian U23 team to play China in a friendly in Bangkok have been abandoned.
The news comes just days after Al-Araibi faced court in Bangkok locked in shackles, to be told his case against extradition will be heard on April 22 - condemning him to another two and a half months in a Thai jail.
Bahrain wants to extradite him to serve a prison sentence over a conviction for vandalism, which authorities claim took place when he was actually playing in a televised football match.
With world governments, FIFA and high-profile footballers calling for his release and return to Australia, the Australian Players Association has led calls for Thailand and Bahrain to be threatened with sanctions if Al-Araibi's extradition goes ahead.
The Olyroos play a mini-tournament in late March in Cambodia, one of 11 concurrent groups across Asia with the 11 group winners and four best runners up qualifying for next year's Asian U23 Championships. The top three teams at the latter tournament qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
Olyroos coach Graham Arnold said the camp to prepare for the March tournament in Cambodia would now be held elsewhere.
"We are in the process of rearranging our pre-tournament camp in another Asian nation," he said.
"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."
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