Calls for UAE to be punished after crowd violence mars Qatar win

Football fans on social media are calling on FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to punish the UAE after Emirati fans pelted Qatari players with shoes and bottles during the Asian Cup semi-final.

Qatar thrashed hosts UAE four goals to nil in a bad-tempered meeting in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, on Tuesday.

Qatari fans were not allowed to attend the fixture because of an ongoing ban on Qatari citizens entering the UAE. Surplus tickets were also bought out by Emirati government-linked bodies and distributed to “loyal” local fans, meaning The Maroons were up against a stadium full of hostile onlookers.

The game started with Emirati fans booing the Qatari national anthem and the atmosphere grew more aggressive as Qatar took the lead and later doubled it before the first half ended.

Qatari players were filmed being struck by and dodging slippers, shoes, and bottles thrown by local fans after scoring their second goal.

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, the AFC said it was “conducting a thorough investigation into events at the Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.”

“Once that investigation has been completed the AFC will decide on the appropriate next steps,” it added.

Videos and images of the scene quickly went viral on social media sparking outrage among both Qatari fans and others.

Emirati defender Ismail Ahmed was also sent off before the match ended for elbowing Qatar’s Salem el-Hajri in the face.

Many called for the UAE to be punished for setting the tone for the crowd’s behaviour and for its failure to protect the Qatari team.

“UAE fans threw shoes at Qatari players. They started off the game with booing national anthem. International bodies should reconsider giving UAE the chance to host reputed sporting events,” wrote Twitter user Olivia Thomas.

Qatar fan Arwa al-Mansoori said football governing body FIFA and the AFC had to punish the Emirati authorities for the crowd’s behaviour.

“We demand penalties for the disrespectful and uncivilized action from the UAE fans towards the Qatari team. What happened to our team is not acceptable!” she wrote alongside a video of a Qatari player being struck by a shoe on his chest.

Qatar has been the target of a land, sea, and air blockade by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt since June 2017.

The quartet accuses Doha of supporting terrorism and opposition groups they have proscribed, charges Qatar vehemently rejects.


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