ABU DHABI // The midfielder Tariq Ahmed yesterday ended an 18 month exile from professional football by signing for Al Jazira. Ahmed, 22, had been at the centre of a transfer dispute which saw the Pro League clubs Al Ahli and Al Ain vying for his signature and him unable to play because of a disagreement with his club Sharjah.
Yesterday he put it behind him by signing a three-year contract with the capital club. "We have signed Tariq Ahmed," confirmed Jazira's media manager Faisal al Naqbi. "We can't comment on any other matter as all other details will be announced when the club is ready to unveil him at a press conference in the coming days." Ahmed has not played for Sharjah in the last 18 months and was the subject of a transfer battle involving Ahli and Al Ain.
The player, who was in the national team squad at the age of 18, missed out in playing in the first season of the Pro League because of a disagreement between the player and club management. Ahmed was angered by what he felt was the club reneging on contractual obligations regarding a housing allowance. He was initially suspended by Sharjah for six months, but was never recalled back to first-team duties.
Ahmed has spent the past 18 months training on his own at a university's facilities in the hope he could resurrect his career when the dispute was sorted. The UAE Football Association (UAE FA) intervened in April and invited clubs to bid for the player -setting a transfer fee at Dh10 million, 70 per cent of which should go to Sharjah. Ain and Ahli were the two bidders. Ain offered the most money for him, but he incurred the wrath of the UAE FA when he turned down a move to the Purples.
They resonded by giving him a six-month suspension, meaning he will not be eligible for Jazira until October unless the ban is overturned. Ahli criticised the UAE FA for raising the asking price. Ahli had offered Dh1m. The Dubai club had no formal response to their bid from the UAE FA until June 24, when they received a letter saying the player's transfer fee had been valued at "Dh10m, 70 per cent of which should go to Sharjah".
Khalifa Sulaiman, chairman of Ahli's board of directors, urged the UAE FA to be transparent over the issue, saying there had been flaws in the player's auction. Yousuf Abdullah, the general secretary of the UAE FA, disputed this. "We have explained our decision to Ahli and I have nothing more to add," he said. "Our decision was if Tariq Ahmed chooses any club - not just Ahli - the purchasing club have to pay Dh7m to Sharjah.
"If they want to discuss with Sharjah to reduce the price, it is Sharjah's decision. "Sharjah can sell the player for free. We cannot interfere in that. "We respect the contract between Sharjah and the player, and we decided that the player still belongs to Sharjah." Ain had offered Ahmed Darwish - who is valued at Dh15m - in exchange for Ahmed. Sharjah would not comment on the issue yesterday.