TIMELINE – 31st JULY 2012 00.03 GMT:
This is a tale of the 3 “Fake Sheikhs” (there may be more) from Bahrain, who are not what they pretend to be, and the “fake Bahrain Olympic Team”.
“Fake Sheikh” No. 1 is Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Hamad Al Khalifa, sometimes described as a “businessman” and a member of Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family.
Normally, you would have expected Sheikh Abdulrahman, who seems to have a keen interest in gambling and horse racing in particularly, to have been at the famous Newmarket racecourse in the UK a couple of weeks ago, to see the fine racehorse Shantaram win the Bahrain Trophy.
Perhaps it was a pious attack of conscience at the approach of Ramadan that deterred him from attending?
Or perhaps it was the fact he now owes the British betting company Spreadex a reputed £350,000 (BD207,230) in lost bets.
Spreadex have been trying to get this back since 2008 when the Sheikh apparently owned a couple of racehorses called Dear Maurice and Royal Jazra.
Now the Sheikh’s name has reappeared in the UK as heading a group of investors who are trying to buy the football club, Leeds United.
Leeds used to be a leading British club but in recent years have fallen on hard times despite having a strong fan base and they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004.
The Sheikh, who is a former president of Al Najma Football Club in Bahrain, tried and failed to buy Leeds United in 2003. At the time the Sheikh was quoted as saying:
“I fell in love with the club when I was 11 years old when Leeds played Chelsea in the 1970 FA Cup final. It was fated that I should love the club. Whether that fate will determine that I can save them 30 years later, I don’t know. Leeds mean everything to me, I was born to support them. Those who are closest to me, my friends and my family, know what Leeds United mean to me”.
(EDITOR: I am sure other members of the Al Khalifa family, and in fact all citizens of Bahrain, are deeply moved by his enthusiasm.)
The Leeds United board of directors has granted the Sheikh’s consortium time to conduct “due diligence” into the club’s financial records, but the clubs fans under the umbrella of the Leeds United Supporters Trust are getting impatient at what seems like a long delay.
“Our members want to support a transparent and open Leeds United and being kept in the dark about who currently owns or runs their football club does nothing to achieve this, ” said a Trust spokesman frustrated at the lack of information over takeover talks which have been going on for months now. The value of the bid is thought to be £50 million (BD 29.8 million).
Leeds fans may like to think long and hard before allowing a member of Bahrain’s ruling family who have deliberately targeted, persecuted and prosecuted Bahraini sportsmen, to take over the running of their club.
EDITOR: If the Sheikh succeeds in his bid, fans may not be too keen on the long term outcome either. Spreadex are unavailable for comment.
SHEIKH NASSER ATTENDS GAMES TO SUPPORT BAHRAIN’S “FAKE OLYMPIC TEAM”:
“Fake Sheikh” No. 2 is of course Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa who contributes to all sorts of charitable causes in Bahrain but is firmly on record accused, including in court transcripts, of persecuting and even personally torturing members of the Shia community in last years uprisings.
Despite our campaign to prevent Sheikh Nasser from attending the London Olympics on the basis that he spearheaded a committee that wrecked the lives of at least 150 Bahraini athletes and sports officials, the Sheikh, as president of Bahrain’s Olympic Committee, did make it to the opening ceremony last Friday.
In the photograph you can see that he was supported by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, whom the Bahrain Government clearly sent to the Opening Ceremony to lend weight to the proceedings.
No doubt they staggered to their feet, considering the lateness of the hour, to applaud the entry of the “Fake Bahrain Olympic Team” as they entered the stadium in the parade of 204 participating nations.
“Fake” because, trouble is, only one member of the 14 member Bahrain Olympic team, consisting of 8 women and 6 men, originates from Bahrain, all the rest being naturalised citizens.
While it is not unusual for Olympic sports participants to change country, particularly when they have dual nationality, it is unusual to, as it seems, virtually “buy” your whole team in.
No doubt the Bahrain officials were also on their feet to applaud the entry of the teams from Kenya and Ethiopia, which is where most of their athletes seem to have originated.
This piece of typical Al Khalifa chicanery, presumably based on money, is unlikely to raise much enthusiasm back home in Bahrain in even the most deluded of the “royal” family’s supporters.
Meanwhile, at least 20 athletes remain in Bahrain’s prisons, having been given sentences in military courts on trumped up charges from last year’s disturbances. Some others of Bahrain’s best sportsmen now play for team’s abroad.
As it says in this Time article, the Al Khalifa government, having “eviscerated” its sports community, is reaping its just desserts in the athletics field. Though it is sad for the people of Bahrain and a waste of the collective talents of nearly 70% of its population.
Bahrain did win a gold medal in the men’s 1500 metre track final at Beijing in 2008. Unfortunately, the “Bahraini athlete”, Rashid Ramzi, later tested positive for the performance enhancing drug CERA and his medal and certificate had to be returned.
You will not be surprised to learn that Ramzi was born in Asfi, Morocco and became a “Bahraini citizen” in 2002 after “joining” the Bahrain armed services.
“DEEPLY RELIGIOUS” RELATIVE OF KING HAMAD REMOVED FROM FLIGHT COMPLETELY DRUNK AT 10.00 am:
And the last “Fake Sheikh”? He remains a bit of a mystery as the UK police have not released his name, though they have given his age as 28.
This mystery Sheikh, “a close relative of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain”, was ejected from a British Airways Boeing 777 flight to Doha via Manama at London Airport last Saturday, when he started complaining about the service, attempted to enter the flight deck (EDITOR: Never a good move since 9/11) and refused to return to his £2,700 (BD1598) First-Class seat.
British police called to the scene reputedly threatened the Sheikh with 50,000 volt Tazers, before arresting him for being drunk and disorderly and taking him to the airport’s police station where he was DNA’d, and had his photograph and fingerprints taken.
The Sheikh was later released on bail and will have to appear in court in London in September.
The Sheikh appears to have lost control at 10.00 am in the morning, so on the subjects of alchohol and Ramadan he is no doubt now in deep discussions with his spiritual advisers. Further detail in the Sun
Peter Clifford has worked for almost 40 years as a counsellor, psychotherapist, lecturer and workshop leader empowering people worldwide to be the best that they can be.
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BAHRAIN – News: Nasser, “Prince of Torture”, to Attend London Olympics as VIP