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 free
There is a striking story in The Club, Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson’s new book on how the Premier League went global, that illustrates football’s inimitable ability to tickle the erogenous zones of the powerful. It turns out that when British prime ministers want to make deals, their secret weapon is the Premier League trophy. As the league’s former CEO Richard Scudamore explains: “Everyone who sees it will say, ‘Wow’. Heads of state, prime ministers – they all want a photo with the trophy. It’s what we like to call soft power.”
But sometimes soft power is not enough. The velvet boot needs iron studs. And when it comes to the shocking case of the jailed Bahraini national team player Hakeem al-Araibi, football needs to go in two-footed.