Rules to stop teams repeating Sharjah's controversial move of pulling out of the AFC Champions League during the tournament are being planned by the UAE Football Association. Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, the president of the UAE FA, has promised tough new regulations from the next season to "eliminate the phenomenon of teams withdrawing from competitions". The UAE FA were powerless to act as Sharjah withdrew from the AFC Champions League last week after four crushing defeats had left them with no hope of progressing. They said their relegation battle at home was more important. With no regulations to deal with such issues, the football chiefs could only plead with Sharjah to rethink a decision which has harmed the image of UAE football.
Chastened by the experience, the UAE FA have decided to impose new regulations from the start of next season, which would include significant penalties on clubs withdrawing from tournaments, without proper justification for the move. "The new regulations will be revealed later this month and will be applied from the next season," al Rumaithi said in Kuala Lumpur, where he is attending the 23rd Asian Football Confederation Congress.
"We want to eliminate this phenomenon of withdrawals, and the punishment for any club withdrawing from any competition, Asian or Gulf, will be great." Sharjah face a minimum one-year ban from Asian football for their decision, and a host of other fines and compensation claims from the AFC. "We will not intervene to ease Sharjah's punishment," said al Rumaithi. "We tried our best to convince them to change their mind, but they paid no heed."
Meanwhile, al Rumaithi has revealed that the UAE FA are in talks with 10 candidates for the post of the national team coach, which will be vacated by Dominique Bathenay after the end of his tenure in next month. "We will announce the name of the new coach soon," he said. "We have got 10 candidates and will pick the one who has the best understanding of Arab and UAE football." Among the candidates being considered are Egyptian legend Mahmoud al Gohary, Tunisian Abdelmajid Chetali and Arrigo Sacchi, the former Italy and AC Milan coach.