x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Wasl back Diego Maradona over crowd incident

Club executive calls the behaviour of Al Shabab fans as 'unacceptable' and says the abuse of Maradona's wife 'offended UAE culture'.

Diego Maradona is restrained by police after confronting Al Shabab fans.
Diego Maradona is restrained by police after confronting Al Shabab fans.

An executive of Al Wasl has described the behaviour of rival fans towards Diego Maradona and his wife as "unacceptable", claiming the Al Shabab supporters involved in the incident with the Al Wasl coach "offended UAE culture".

Maradona stormed into the stands after the Pro League game on Thursday to confront Shabab fans who had allegedly been abusing his wife and guests. Maradona had to be restrained by police and escorted back to the dressing room after the melee. The former coach of Argentina later referred to the Shabab fans as "cowards".

"Any such abuse is unacceptable but it is even more offensive when it offends women," Abdullah Al-Bishr, acting chief of Al Wasl, said. "Our cultural guidelines frown on such behaviour that shook everyone in the stadium or who watched what happened on television. That is why the incident garnered such global attention."

Al-Bishr said he supported Maradona's decision to confront the fans, saying: "It is what any honourable person would do".

"We offer our sincere apologies to Maradona for what took place on behalf of the few who offended UAE culture by their actions," Al-Bishr said. "This is a society, which by its very nature, does not insult women by cursing and harassing, but is brought up to treat them with respect."

Ahmed Khalifa, media office manager of Al Wasl, asked: "Is what Diego did strange in our society?"

In a club statement, Khalifa said: "The presence of such a legend is an enrichment of UAE Football and it is a shame that his family and guests endured harassment. If those few people knew Maradona's nominal value and his football history, they wouldn't have done what they did."

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