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Attack on referee shameful, says UAE FA chief

Al Sarkal, however, stops short of calling for CCTV in every stadium

Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News
Assistant referee Mohammad Al Muhairi, left, was struck by a metal object that was thrown from the Al Ahli section of the crowdduring the etisalat Pro-League match at Rashid Stadium on Saturday.
Gulf News

Dubai: UAE Football Association (UAEFA) president Yousuf Al Sarkal has condemned the attack on an assistant referee, who was struck by a missile at Saturday’s Etisalat Pro League match between Al Ahli and Al Ain at Rashid Stadium in Al Ghusais.

Mohammad Al Jalaf Al Muhairi was left needing three stitches to his head after a mobile phone battery was thrown by a disgruntled Al Ahli fan who

was angered by the linesman’s refusal to flag for a late penalty. He was admitted to Rashid Hospital but discharged later the same evening.

As a result of the incident, the game, which was tied at 0-0, was abandoned before three minutes of injury time had elapsed. Al Ahli now awaits a UAE FA disciplinary committee hearing to decide if Al Ain will be awarded all three points on grounds of a crowd disturbance.

Speaking to Gulf News, Al Sarkal said: “It’s a regretful thing to have happened and we don’t like to see it in a competition that we have worked so hard to make successful.

“Violence is completely unacceptable regardless of the victim. We don’t accept it and we are not used to seeing in our stadiums or our sports. What’s happened is shameful,” he added.

Al Ahli club will now be working with Dubai Police to identify the culprit, but Al Sarkal fell short of demanding CCTV in every stadium. “At the moment, we don’t have CCTV in every stadium,” said Al Sarkal, before adding: “But this is only a one-off incident, it’s not a common problem. We hope it doesn’t happen again and we leave it to the concerned committees to decide upon necessary measures to avoid its re-occurrence.”

The candidate for AFC (Asian Football Confederation) presidency remained similarly coy over what would happen about the result of the abandoned fixture between the Etisalat Pro League’s top two clubs. “It’s now all up to the disciplinary committee to decide and I don’t want interfere in the judicial process. Regulations will be implemented.”

In previous incidences of crowd trouble in the UAE, Al Ain fans were accused of throwing stones at former Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona last season, while Maradona himself had to scale the terraces at Al Shabab to defend his former girlfriend Veronica Ojeda from a confrontation with rival fans.

The UAE national team was also fined Dh25,000 in 2008 after fans threw bottles onto the pitch in Abu Dhabi after a 2-1 defeat to North Korea in a crucial 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifier.