Manchester United won't pull plug on Bahrain school

LONDON (AFP) - Manchester United will go ahead with a coaching school in Bahrain hosted by their legendary striker Denis Law despite the volatile political situation in the Gulf State, according to a report on Friday.

The Guardian newspaper reported that United's football school will take place this weekend against a backdrop of protests over Formula One's decision to go ahead with the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 21, and with a series of reported human rights abuses in the region.

It was recently claimed that a female doctor in Bahrain was beaten by security forces after asking the Premier League club for a minute's silence in memory of a 15-year-old boy killed in the 2011 uprising while wearing a United shirt.

One of the directors of the campaign group, Human Rights First, called on Law to meet with Dr Fatima Haji, who was sentenced to five years in custody for treating injured prisoners during an uprising in the region before being acquitted last year, after she was said to be tortured partly because of her perceived association with United.

"While Law is there promoting the school, it might be nice if he went to see the family of Ahmad Shams, the 15-year-old boy who was shot by the police, according to his family, while wearing a Man United shirt in March 2011, or popped in to see Dr Fatima Haji, one of the medics in Bahrain who was tortured and interrogated about her connection to Man United," wrote Mr Brian Dooley, a director of New York-based organisation Human Rights First, in a blog.

United took advice from the British Foreign Office and the club's insurers, Aon, before deciding to go ahead with the soccer school in Manama.

A United spokesman said that the club extended its condolences to Ahmed's family, but had received assurances over the safety of Law and its staff and was planning to go ahead with the trip.

"We condemn violent acts by any side and offer our condolences to the family and friends of those affected. We have taken advice from the Foreign Office and Aon and we are comfortable with the trip going ahead," the spokesman told the Guardian.