Clubs from Gulf rivals UAE and Qatar meet on football field

Clubs from Gulf rivals UAE and Qatar meet on football field

Dubai (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates hosted a Qatari club on Monday in the first football match involving the two neighbours since they turned on each other in the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

UAE champions Al-Jazira beat Al-Gharafa of Qatar 3-2 in the first round of AFC Champions League group phase, in an encounter that passed without incident.

It was the first time the Emirates had hosted a Qatari club since June 2017.

That was when the UAE was among a group of countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt to cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shiite rival Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations.

Around 5,000 spectators attended Monday’s match at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The game was held in a relaxed atmosphere, with players exchanging handshakes at the start of the encounter and after the final whistle.

That was despite Emirati media outlets having boycotted pre-match press conference by the visitors on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE had sought to play Monday’s match on neutral territory, but the Asian Football Confederation refused their request.

In December, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain refused to take part in the Gulf Cup, a tournament in Qatar involving eight national teams from across the region.

The event was eventually hosted by Kuwait.


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