Sharjah have been fined US$413,000 (Dh1.2m) and barred from competing in the 2010 AFC Champions League after withdrawing from this year's final two group stage fixtures. The UAE Pro League club, who claimed qualification for Asia's premier club tournament by beating the Indian side Dempo 3-0 in a play-off, lost their first four group games, ending any qualification hopes. And with the side embroiled in a tight relegation scrap, they controversially prioritised preserving Pro League status in a decision which could have seen the UAE FA penalised.
However, the executive committee stopped short of imposing additional sanctions - which could have included reducing the league's three AFC Champions League qualification places - on the domestic body. When Sharjah withdrew in April, UAE Pro League chief executive Romy Gai explained his organisation's dilemma: "Sharjah are one of our clubs and we respect their decision, but they have made the worst possible choice.
"It poses a risk not just to the club, but to UAE football - it is going to hurt all the good things we have done in the past 10 months trying to build the reputation of UAE football in Asia." However, while the UAE FA has dodged an AFC Champions League bullet - they will receive only a warning letter - Sharjah's heavy fine could grow further. The AFC fine excludes loss-of-revenue compensation to the other clubs in Sharjah's group.
Sharjah were unavailable for comment. The executive committee have also recommended the amendment of the competition regulations to discourage other teams from withdrawing from future AFC competitions. In other Pro League news, the Bahrain international, Hussain Baba, has signed a one-year contract with Al Shabab, completing the Dubai club's quota of foreign players for the new season. With retained Brazilian Carlos Renato joined by striking compatriot Pedrao, as well as Chile's Carlos Villanueva, Baba, 27, joins a new-look side.
Baba is believed to have a deal worth US$400,000 (Dh1.47m) with the club. Baba has played for several clubs in Qatar and Kuwait but the move to Shabab is his first to the UAE. "I'm glad that I will join such a great team and play in a big league such as the Pro League," he said. email@example.com