Among those detained were three national soccer team players, including brothers Alaa and Mohammed Hubail. Alaa has said that he and his brother had been abused and humiliated during their detention.
Alaa’s case has yet to go to court. He and the five other national team players have been barred from playing on the national team or in Bahrain’s domestic league.
The protests were part of the wave of anti-government demonstrations sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. Unlike in Syria and elsewhere the region, Bahrain succeeded to squash the protests with brute force. Thousands were detained and some 30 people were killed.
By including athletes in the crackdown, Bahrain effectively shot itself in its foot. Like other Gulf states, Bahrain sees sports as a vehicle to project itself on to the world stage. It succeeded in attracting the region's first Formula One race, the Bahrain Grand Prix, and in becoming part of this year’s Volvo Golf Champions European tours. Both events were however cancelled because of the protests.
Many of the affected soccer players are meanwhile trying to move on with their lives. National team defender Sayed Mohammed Adnan went into voluntary exile and has joined Australian A-League champion Brisbane Roar. Alaa recently signed a deal to play for an Omani football club.
His brother Mohammed is still looking for a place to go. He rejected an offer to return to Al Ahli because the club demanded that he sign a statement admitting to his crimes.
James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.