Player reveals how football club from Qatar was mistreated in UAE

Al Gharafa’s trip to Abu Dhabi to face Al-Jazira Club last Monday (February 12) was unlike any other normal professional football team’s trip to an international sporting event.

Al Gharafa is the first Qatari club to visit UAE after the illegal blockade started in June 2017. Since the beginning of the journey from Doha to Abu Dhabi, they had to go through many obstacles.

First of all, it took around 18 hours to reach Abu Dhabi, which resulted in the cancellation of Saturday’s training session, and they could get only one training session on Sunday.

“The flight from Doha reached Muscat, Oman, at 00.40 am and the flight to Abu Dhabi was to take off at 2 am. The captain suddenly told us that he had received a call from Abu Dhabi airport that the flight would be delayed due to bad weather. Al Gharafa players had to deboard the plane and spend around 8 hours inside the Muscat airport and the plane finally took off at 9:45 am to Abu Dhabi,” Al Gharafa player Fahad Al Shammari shared in a series of videos posted on his Snapchat account.

At the Abu Dhabi airport, Al Shammari said that they were harassed by the UAE officials only because they were from Qatar.

”A security officer began checking our passports and told us that the system is not working. Meanwhile, one of the Al Gharafa staff, who could see over the computer screen, saw that it was showing on the screen that the person holding this passport is prohibited entry to UAE,” he added.

Without the help of AFC, Al Gharafa would have been subjected to even more harassment, and after few minutes of waiting, the security staff took all the passports and stamped them without entering the data, Al-Shammari said in his videos.

Football teams traveling for tournaments are usually treated like important guests and are given special treatment at all airports around the world.

“At the airport customs, they spoke to us inappropriately and asked us to put the bags on the scanners and remove them quickly without giving us anytime. Minutes later a security officer took us to a small area and made us open all our bags. They removed everything from our bags and threw them on the ground in a mess and we had to rearrange and repack the suitcases again,” Al Shammari said.

When Al Gharafa team reached the hotel, there were a number of people monitoring the team in the hotel lobby and any person approaching or contacting the players were followed and questioned by authorities.

On Monday evening when the Al Gharafa team went to the stadium to play against Al Jazira as part of the AFC Champions League, they faced similar personal searches, like they had to go through at the Abu Dhabi airport, before entering the stadium.

“From the moment we entered the stadium, their fans were shouting insults about our leaders and our families – that continued until the end of the game. Even Al-Jazira players cursed us several times. During shaking hands between captains of the two teams, Al-Jazira changed their Emirati captain and chose a Moroccan player to avoid shaking hands with our captain,” he added.

When they reached the hotel after the match they were in for more shock as one of the official’s room was broken into and the safe was open and its number changed.

Despite all these difficulties, Al Gharafa managed to play relatively well but lost to Al-Jazira 3-2 for the first time. On all previous occasion, the club had managed to beat the UAE side.

Source: The Peninsula