Dubai: Al Wasl forwards Caio Correa and Fabio Lima can now play in Thursday’s Al Nasr derby after having their suspensions, for appearing in an ‘offensive and provocative’ online video, postponed.
In the 26-second clip, which went viral on social media on Monday, the Brazilian duo were asked by a fan what they would do to ‘The Penguins’ (a mocking term for Al Nasr used by some Al Wasl fans) in Thursday’s derby.
Lima replied by doing an impression of a penguin jiggling his feet with his arms straight down by his sides, and hands out at 90-degree angles, while Caio resorted to a throat-slitting gesture.
Al Nasr’s stadium is located next to Al Nasr Leisureland in Oud Metha, which has a swimming pool adorned with plastic penguins, and some Al Wasl fans have previously used the flightless bird as a symbol of mockery to goad their Al Nasr rivals.
On Tuesday, the pair were immediately handed a two-match ban, and slapped with Dh20,000 fines by the UAE Football Association’s (UAE FA) disciplinary committee, who called the video ‘offensive and provocative’.
It had appeared that the players would miss Thursday’s derby against Al Nasr and initial reports said the suspensions couldn’t be appealed because it was for a period of less than four games.
However, Al Wasl contested the ruling on Wednesday and said they hadn’t had adequate time to prepare their defence for Tuesday’s disciplinary meeting.
As a result, the disciplinary committee has been postponed until a second hearing can be held on November 12, meaning Caio and Lima can now play against Al Nasr.
This will come as some relief to Al Wasl, who are currently top of the league after going unbeaten in the first six games of the season.
Lima and Caio have been pivotal to that form, contributing a respective seven and four goals to the club’s total 12 scored.
However, it remains to be seen if the players will still have their punishments upheld to be served at a later date.
A source at the club speaking on condition of anonymity told Gulf News that both players believed the video was private and wouldn’t be posted on social media by the fan.
Thursday’s game is a home tie for fifth-placed Al Nasr, but due to the ongoing redevelopment of their stadium, they are playing all home matches elsewhere this season.
So far, they have been playing their home games at Al Wasl’s Zabeel Stadium, but with this being a game against Al Wasl, the fixture has been moved to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai’s Stadium in Al Ghusais (kick-off 7.45pm), so as not to give Al Wasl any unfair advantage.
News of Caio and Lima’s initial suspension only broke after both coaches had held their pre-match conferences on Wednesday, so there was no immediate reaction to the decision.
However, Al Nasr coach Cesare Prandelli, had alluded to the rivalry between both sets of supporters.
“I believe this will be extra motivation for our players. They are the ones on the pitch and need to show personality and character that is stronger than outside factors. We always respect all fans but repeat, our players should be the ones making the show.
“At the end of the day it’s just a football game, both teams have very important and positive fans and I just hope it stays that way and doesn’t condition the game.”
Elsewhere, this weekend, defending champions Al Jazira are at home to fourth-placed Shabab Al Ahli Dubai on Friday, and second-placed Al Ain are away to third-placed Al Wahda on Saturday.