Fifa asks Bahrain for transparency over players' roles

Two national team members alleged to have demonstrated.

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Fifa said on Friday it wants Bahrain football officials to give details of cases involving players detained during political protests, with the Gulf kingdom facing an investigation for government interference in the sport.

Authorities in Bahrain reportedly sentenced the national team player Mohammed Hubail to two years in prison on Thursday.

Alaa Hubail, Mohammed's brother, also went on trial Thursday in the same security court for allegedly taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

More than 150 athletes, coaches and referees have been suspended since martial law was imposed in March to quell Shiite-led opposition to the Sunni monarchy. Fifa said in a statement it had contacted the Bahrain Football Association in May for information.

"However, we have no specific official information on this matter at the moment," the world football body said.

Fifa rules give it the power to suspend countries whose governments interfere in football affairs.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the Bahrain FA president, is a member of the ruling royal family.

The Hubail brothers appeared at closed-door court sessions on the same day that Bahrain's Under 23 team advanced in qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics by defeating Palestine in Ramallah.

A Fifa suspension could jeopardise Bahrain's participation in the next round of Asian Olympic qualifiers which begins in September.

Bahrain are also scheduled to take part in the 2014 World Cup qualifying draw being conducted July 30 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The UAE will be hoping to join Bahrain in the 20-team draw by beating India in a two-legged play-off next month. Srecko Katanec, the UAE coach, said India should not be underestimated.

"India seems easy on paper but they are a serious team," the Slovene said. "We must be serious, too."

The UAE routed India 5-0 in a friendly in Dubai in November and the two sides will meet on July 23 at Al Ain and again in India five days later.

Katanec has criticised the Asian Football Confederation for staging World Cup qualifiers at the height of summer and said a home match at Al Ain "means it will be 43°C instead of 45°C" in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

"We cannot change the rules or the conditions. We can only play," he said.