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Bangladeshi FIFA official jailed for "defaming" Prime Minister Hasina

Mahfuza Akhter Kiron. Photo file

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FIFA via Getty Images


Mahfuza Akhter Kiron has been a member of the FIFA Council since 2017

The Bangladeshi authorities have arrested a prominent member of FIFA, the highest governing body of football, for defaming the country's prime minister.

Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, a member of the FIFA Council, was arrested after declaring that Prime Minister Cheikh Hasina had neglected football.

A local sports official then filed a defamation complaint, alleging that the remarks embarrassed the entire nation.

On Saturday, Ms. Kiron was denied bail and sent to jail, her lawyer said.

"We asked for her bail after she was brought to court, but our prayer was rejected," said her lawyer, Liakat Hossain.

Human rights groups accused the Sheikh Hasina government of using strict media laws to quell dissent in the country.

Last August, well-known Bangladeshi photographer and activist Shahidul Alam was jailed for "spreading false information" during mass protests.

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What did Mahfuz Akhter Kiron say?

In a recent TV talk show, Kiron said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had neglected football in Bangladesh, a crazy cricket country.

This prompted a local sports official, Abul Hasan Chowdhury Prince, to file a defamation complaint.

Mahfuza said on television that [the] PM maintains the double standard for football and cricket. She rewards cricket for her personal gains but ignores football, "said Mr Hasan's lawyer quoted by the Associated Press.

The defamation complaint alleges that such comments about the sports-loving Prime Minister embarrass the nation as a whole.

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Sheikh Hasina is the most senior prime minister in the history of Bangladesh

Prime Minister Cheikh Hasina, who obtained his third consecutive term last December, has not yet made any public comment on this issue.

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In 2017, Ms. Kiron was elected FIFA Representative for Asian Football.

She quickly faced fierce criticism for having trouble naming the current female world champions – the US team.

Asked by BBC World Service, who won the 2015 Women's World Cup, she answered "Korea? Japan?" – give only the correct answer on the third attempt.

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