Footballer and journalist Aleksiander Ivulin spent two years in prison for ‘protests’. Despite human rights abuses of its citizens, including footballers, and state interference of the Belarusian Football Federation, Uefa and Fifa have not banned the country from international play. In fact, the Lukashenko-run federation’s biggest source of income is Uefa and Fifa funding.
In the shadow of the vast gold-clad bowl Lusail stadium, the World Cup’s 1 billion-dollar centrepiece venue resembling the ark of Noah, Joseph sums up his existence, his fate tied to that of the World Cup: “No one sees us.”
Three times Uefa has rejected a submission to investigate state interference in Belarusian football, neglecting evidence of human rights abuse, threats, torture and political appointment of officials.
The hunger striking whistleblower Abdullah Ibhais has been denied salt by his prison guards. Meanwhile the Supreme Committee has asked his lawyer to step down and, if not, warning him that representing Ibhais will damage his career.
Uefa awarded brutal dictator Alexander Lukashenko the hosting rights of the 2025 women’s U19 European Championship. According to Amnesty International, the government of Belarus is violating human rights on a scale not witnessed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Authorities persecute footballers who demand democracy.
Former Bahrain international Haakem al-Araibi is trapped in a detention cell in Bangkok, wanted back in is home country on trumped-up charges. Neither FIFA president Gianni Infantino or his vice president Sheikh Salman from Bahrain, who al-Araibi has said is complicit in his plight, have spoken out in defence of him.