Human Rights spotlight on Bahrain as veteran footballer jailed for protesting

THE Bahrain Football Association faces FIFA scrutiny after veteran international Mohamed Hubail was convicted by Bahrain's security court of attending anti-government demonstrations and sentenced to two years in prison. His brother, Alaa Hubail, is also under trial in the same closed-doors court.

The brothers were detained by authorities in April for their participation in protests against Bahrain's monarchy and are among more than 150 athletes, coaches and referees who have been suspended since martial law was imposed in March.

The United Nations human rights office in Geneva was quoted by AP as claiming that the trials of the Hubail brothers "appear to bear the marks of political persecution" and ignored the due process rights of the defendants.

FIFA stated it wants Bahrain football officials to give details of cases involving players detained during political protests but has received "no specific official information" since contacting the BFA in May.

According to observer James M. Dorsey in Al Arabiya, the BFA said in April that six clubs had withdrawn from domestic leagues following the protests and the arrests. BFA Vice President Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said at the time that the clubs had withdrawn because of “pressure from Shiite political groups.”

Three of the clubs as well as a Bahraini human right group claimed however that the clubs from mostly Shiite villages had not withdrawn voluntarily but had been suspended for two years and fined $20,000. The group, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said the clubs had been suspended because they had stopped playing during the protests because they felt it was too dangerous and also in honor of protesters killed in the government’s crackdown.

Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa
, President of the BFA and a member of the Bahrain royal family has been named as a potential leading contender to succeed Mohammed Bin Hammam as President of the Asian Football Confederation.