Dubai: Shaggy-haired UAE and Al Ain forward Omar Abdul Rahman has been omitted from a list of 79 players who have been told by the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) to get their haircut this week.
Al Wahda midfielder Suhail Al Mansouri, who sports a similar do, is on the list however, along with Ghana and Al Ahli striker Asamoah Gyan and Al Jazira’s Brazilian striker Leonardo.
Al Mansouri has since been to the barber and said he got he got a trim out of respect for the UAE FA but added that he didn’t know what his hair had to do with football.
A source from the UAE FA told Gulf News on Wednesday that referees had been monitoring haircuts in recent fixtures and had made notes on what the authority decrees is objectionable style and length, ready to present to the UAE FA disciplinary committee.
Of particular concern are ‘Qaza-style haircuts’, where parts of the head are shaven but others not.
The disciplinary committee then sent out letters to 46 players from top-flight Arabian Gulf League clubs warning them to cut their hair, followed by a further 33 letters to players in lower tier UAE football, totalling 79.
“It’s to do with our rules and our culture,” said a source at the UAE FA. “The rule has always been there, but it hasn’t been activated until now.”
Asked why it had suddenly been implemented, the source replied: “I don’t know but before six months the local media started concentrating on player’s haircuts and then the board decided to find a solution because it doesn’t set a good example to youth.”
The source added that general warnings were first sent out to clubs over three months ago, but it’s only now that those warnings have been followed up by singling out offending players.
“This is not a new thing and it’s not a surprise,” said the source.
Players have been told that if they don’t get a haircut before the next round of league fixtures they will be fined, and if they still don’t get a haircut before the next round of fixtures after that, they will be given a two-match ban.
The source couldn’t confirm how much the fine would be or what would happen if players still didn’t get a haircut after two rounds of fixtures, but they did allude to the possibility of an indefinite ban.
Asked why Omar’s hair is exempt from the ruling, the source replied: “A board member said it was OK but it was just long.”
Omar is widely considered to be the UAE’s best player, and is renowned for his distinctive look, which even featured on the cover of the Middle East edition of the video game Pro Evolution Soccer last year.
This isn’t the first time footballers have been told to get their hair snipped. Last year, the Saudi Arabia Football Federation issued similar order — and, in 2012, Al Shabab Riyadh keeper Waleed Abdullah had to have a pitch-side trim after the referee said his hair was ‘un-Islamic’.
Mohawk-like hairstyles — where some of the head is shaven and other parts are not — are considered to be particularly frowned upon in local culture.