Australian soccer authorities have canceled a game in Thailand to protest the continued detention in Bangkok of a refugee player who is fighting extradition to Bahrain.

Football Federation Australia announced Wednesday it had scrapped the game against China, a scheduled warmup ahead of next month’s qualifiers for the Asian under-23 championships.

Former Australia national team captain Craig Foster and the Australian and international players’ unions have been leading a campaign for the release of Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee who lives and plays for a semi-professional club in Australia and has been held in Thailand since November at the request of Bahrain.

Australia coach Graham Arnold says “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.”

The 25-year-old al-Araibi, a former Bahraini national team player, has said he fled his home country due to political repression and fears he is at risk of being tortured if he returns to Bahrain.

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Former Australian soccer national team member Craig Foster, left, and Vice President of FIFPro Francis Awaritefe wait to meet detained Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Former Australian soccer national team member Craig Foster, left, and Vice President of FIFPro Francis Awaritefe wait to meet detained Bahraini soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi as he arrives at the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

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