x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Al Ain fans upset at ticket snub

Some supporters were left in tears outside Sharjah's ground as they were refused entry to watch their side beat the home team 4-1.

Al Ain's goalkeeper Dawoud Sulaiman stops an attempt by Sharjah.
Al Ain's goalkeeper Dawoud Sulaiman stops an attempt by Sharjah.

SHARJAH // Threats by Al Ain fans to cause "mayhem" at the prospect of a shutout at the Sharjah Stadium did not come to pass last night.

Denied an extra 20 per cent allocation of tickets for the Pro League match, some Al Ain supporters had hinted at "creating problems" in and outside the stadium, but those who were locked out waited patiently for an extra batch of tickets to arrive. When they did not, they drifted off.

The helmets and shields of the riot police remained neatly stacked, and their batons holstered at their side. One officer filmed the events outside the stadium on a camcorder.

Barely a cross word was uttered among the 200 luckless fans. Some Al Ain supporters took up the option of sitting with the Sharjah fans, and they edged as near as they could to their own contingent.

The few who remained outside were let in after the half-time interval. Some sat in the gangways, while others stood at the back of the stand.

"Many more people were put off travelling from Al Ain because they thought they would not get let in," Mazen Moosa said from inside the away-supporters section.

"They know that if they come to the ground and sit with the opposition supporters, there is a possibility of unrest, and they do not want to get the club in trouble."

Abdullah Al Tunaiji is usually beside himself with joy when Asamoah Gyan, his favourite Al Ain player, scores a goal. Last night, though, he kicked the dirt as hard as he could with his little right foot, then promptly burst into tears.

When the Ghana forward gave the league leaders an early lead, the six-year-old schoolboy was still outside the ground, waiting in vain for an extra allocation of tickets for away fans to arrive.

"I told him we can go and sit with the Sharjah supporters, but he didn't want to take his [purple Al Ain] scarf off and put it back in the car," said his older brother, Saif.

"I feel very bad as this is his first time at a live game and he really wanted to come and sit with our supporters.

"He is very upset. It is nonsense that we can't go in."

As Abdullah wiped away his tears with a large, purple inflatable hand, which was adorned with the Al Ain crest, he managed to see a replay of the goal via the smartphone of one his brother's friends. Not that it helped his mood much.

"We want to watch the game with our friend [inside the away section]," said Saleh Al Ali, another Sharjah-based Al Ain supporter left outside.

"This has never happened to us before, even when we have only arrived just before kick-off.

"Home clubs should give 30 per cent of the tickets to the guests, especially when it is Al Ain as we have the most supporters."

Carlo Nohra, the chief executive at Al Ain, confirmed that the club had made a request for 30 per cent of the seats at Sharjah, but conceded that the request had not come 15 days before the match, as outlined by league rules.

"The response was negative, which is their right as we made the request late," Nohra said in midweek.