Dubai: Al Nasr coach Dan Petrescu has attacked the UAE Football Association’s (UAE FA) decision to ban Blue Wave striker Wanderley Santos for 10 games ahead of Friday’s derby at home to Al Wasl as “unjust and cruel”.
Santos has already been banned for 60 days by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in August for playing in an Asian Champions League match under a ‘forged or falsified’ Indonesian passport to assume the club’s Asian player slot.
Every club in Asia plays with three foreigners plus one Asian player, but it was ruled that Santos and Al Nasr had illegally registered the Brazilian under false Indonesian documents.
The player was then fined $10,000 (Dh36,730) and the club had to pay $50,000 (Dh183,650) as well paying back $340,000 in Asian Champions League prize money. They also had their 3-0 quarter-final first leg win over Qatar’s El Jaish reversed to a 3-0 defeat.
Al Nasr didn’t appeal that initial decision and instead de-registered the player during the term of his 60-day ban, before re-registering him in the January transfer window as a Brazilian ahead of the second half of the domestic season.
However, while the AFC acknowledges and approves the transition back to his Brazilian nationality, the UAE FA says a player can’t switch nationality half way through a season.
The UAE FA had initially approved the switch, but when Al Ain questioned the legality of Santos’ participation in their recent President’s Cup quarter-final defeat to Al Nasr, the UAE FA reversed their decision. The UAE FA have now suspended Santos for 10 games and fined Al Nasr Dh200,000. Al Nasr have appealed and hope the UAE FA will freeze the ruling in order to let Santos play this weekend.
“I’m sad and it’s hard to talk about the next match with Al Wasl,” said Petrescu. “What happened is unreasonable and today we must talk boldly and without fear about the decision to suspend Wanderley.
“I’ve spent 40 years travelling between Italy, England, Romania, China and Russia and I went to two World Cups as a player and I have never seen this kind of decision.
“Why stop the team’s best player from playing just before a derby? Why has he been allowed to play against Dubai and Al Ain in the President’s Cup and Al Dhafra and Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf League, but only now is he being stopped? It’s unacceptable.
“There are many questions to be asked including why this has happened at the end of the transfer window. If you don’t suspend him before the closure of the transfer window how will we sign another player? This is cruel treatment. I can’t talk about the game after this unjust decision.”