DUBAI // Cosmin Olaroiu yesterday was hit with a Dh100,000 fine, the biggest in UAE football history, and banned from the Al Ahli dugout for three games for comments he made about Al Ain earlier this month.
The punishment handed down by the Football Association’s disciplinary committee came ahead of Ahli’s key Arabian Gulf League encounter with the two-time defending champions, who are suing Olaroiu for breach of contract.
When asked about that lawsuit, in which Al Ain reportedly have requested €500,000 (Dh2.5 million) in compensation, Olaroiu reportedly made reference to the club’s financial circumstances.
Al Ain claim an agreement was signed by Olaroiu to continue into a third full campaign at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium – he had guided the Garden City club to successive league titles – and they have since said they would take their case to the FA and then to Fifa, football’s governing body, should their appeal not be successful.
Olaroiu, however, denies he formally accepted Al Ain’s offer of an extension, and following Ahli’s League Cup victory against Ajman on November 6 he responded to a journalist’s question by criticising Al Ain for their actions.
Acting on a complaint by a private party, the disciplinary committee chairman, Salem bin Bahyan, in part said: “There was a mistake and an abuse was committed.”
The decision rules Olaroiu out of Ahli’s games against Al Ain, Sharjah and Al Jazira – a run of fixtures that could have a significant impact on the destination of the league title.
Olaroiu’s Ahli have a perfect record in six league matches and are six points clear at the top of the table. They lead Al Ain by eight points, and could take that advantage to 11 with a victory on Sunday.
It remains unclear if Olaroiu will appeal his ban, although if he does he will still have to watch Sunday’s clash from the stands at the Rashid Stadium.
In his news briefing after the Ajman game, Olaroiu said he could also approach Fifa regarding the contract issue with Al Ain. Speaking then, he said: “I left because of lack of agreement on the renewal of a contract. I did not accept the contract, so I told the club I am leaving at the end of the season.
“The club management was aware I was leaving the team, and I told them that I will not continue. I have every respect for the chairman of Al Ain … and did not want to go into these details.”
The dispute will do little to quell the tension between the two clubs, which stretches back to last season. Viewed as direct rivals for the 2013/14 league crown, an additional layer to the rivalry is provided by the fact Al Ain are now managed by Quique Sanchez Flores.
The Spaniard had previously spent 20 months in charge at Ahli, during which time he led the club to Etisalat Cup and President’s Cup success.
He left at the beginning of the summer, citing the conclusion on a “two-year project” at Ahli.
Sanchez Flores will certainly realise the importance of his return to the Rashid Stadium.
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