x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Ain fans' anger at treatment by Al Jazira

Al Jazira refuse to let Garden City supporters through after allocating 10 per cent of Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium to visitors in Pro League match.

Not all Al Ain supporters were fortunate enough to cheer their team on at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Monday night. Christopher Pike / The National
Not all Al Ain supporters were fortunate enough to cheer their team on at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Monday night. Christopher Pike / The National

Al Ain have expressed their dissatisfaction with how fans were treated before Monday night's Pro League clash at Al Jazira.

Thousands of the champions' supporter made the trip to the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in the capital in anticipation of one of the season's most high-profile matches, yet a large number was denied entry.

It is unclear how many Al Ain fans were refused access as some eventually took residence among the home support, although the Garden City side are unhappy about the handling of the situation having two weeks earlier requested an increase on the 10 per cent allocation of the stadium capacity the hosts initially made available.

The National today tried several times to contact Jazira for comment, but the club would not answer our calls.

An Al Ain spokesman said: "We sent a letter to Al Jazira requesting an increase from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. We wanted about 5,000 tickets, but they would not give us that, so it was limited to 1,800. However, that's the rule. If they decide to give us more that is OK, but it is up to them. Nobody can force them."

Al Ain are typically the UAE's best supported club and Monday's match was guaranteed to attract a considerable following as it pitted last season's title winners against the previous year's champions.

The need to accommodate more away fans soon became apparent as swells of people congregated outside the stadium shortly before the 9pm kick off. Attempts were made by Al Ain to persuade Jazira to grant admission, but the Abu Dhabi club maintained their stance.

"We went to Jazira to tell them we had problems with 2,500 or 3,000 fans outside, but still they said no," added the spokesman. "They said 10 per cent is the rule and they could not give even one per cent more.

"Some of our fans had travelled from Umm Al Qaiwain and Ras Al Khaimah to find 15 minutes before the match there were no tickets. Such a situation can be dangerous. We said it was not only a problem for us, but also for Jazira and the police. There was space near the Al Ain section that could have held almost 3,000 fans, but they would not open the doors."

Al Ain experienced a similar scenario in March, when some of their fans were refused entry into a league match at Sharjah.

Then, the club had inquired about extra seats less than 15 days before the clash, and were therefore not entitled, by league rules, to have the request granted.

Monday's trouble seems particularly suspect considering the official attendance was recorded at just short of 20,000 – the stadium capacity is 42,000 – and given the league's perennial push to eradicate poor attendance figures.

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