x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bathenay's men given more time to prepare

The controversy over the 11th round of the UFL was laid to rest after a joint meeting of the UAE Football Association and the Professional League Association.

The UAE coach Dominique Bathenay should now receive the period of preparation for the Gulf Cup that he  wanted.
The UAE coach Dominique Bathenay should now receive the period of preparation for the Gulf Cup that he wanted.

The controversy over the 11th round of the UFL was laid to rest after a joint meeting of the UAE Football Association and the Professional League Association decided to postpone the games until February. A meeting was held in Abu Dhabi to resolve the issue after the competitions committee of the PLA refused to postpone the matches on Monday, citing "continuity" of the league and "fairness" to the participating clubs. However, their decision was overturned.

The UAE FA had requested the postponement of the 11th round of matches, scheduled for Dec 23 and 24, to allow the national team a longer training camp before they depart to Oman on Jan 2 for the defence of their Gulf Cup title. Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, the president of the UAE FA, chaired the joint meeting and said the decision "serves the interests of all affected parties without being prejudicial to the interest of any".

The meeting was attended by Hamad bin Brook and Mohammed Ibrahim al Mahmoud, the president and vice-president of the executive committee of the PLC, Obaid al Shamsi, the vice-chairman of the Professional Union, Abdullah Nasser al Junaibi, the vice-president of the competitions committee of the UAE FA, and other officials. The UAE football team will now assemble on Dec 20 after the 10th round of the UFL, while the 11th round will be played on Feb 6 and 7.

The 12th round has been moved forward to Feb 15-16, the 13th round will be played on Feb 20-21 instead of Feb 15-16, while the 14th round will be held on Feb 28 and March 1, instead of Feb 27-28. Changes have also been made to the semi-finals of the President's Cup, which were scheduled to be held on Feb 20-21. They will now be played on Feb 24, while the quarter-finals will be held on Feb 1-2 as scheduled.

"This meeting was absolutely necessary and we discussed in complete silence until we reached a solution," said al Rumaithi. "There are no aggrieved parties in this joint resolution. "The national team coach Dominique Bathenay wanted a longer period of preparation for the Gulf Cup and we asked the PLA to postpone to the 11th round so that we could increase the training camp by five days. They turned down our request on Nov 28 and so we had to call for this joint meeting.

"Sometimes, it becomes necessary to change schedules and it happens all around the world, even in the most professional leagues. Al Rumaithi insisted there was no "animosity" between the UAE FA and PLA, "but we recognise there are some differences of opinion, which are a result of a lack of communication". "In the coming period, we will witness a direct contact between the two parties," he added. "Both the bodies are working for the good of football in the UAE, but there are some hidden hands trying to drive a wedge between us.

"I have no evidence to take names, but I will not allow them to be successful in their designs." The decision is, however, expected to raise a storm, with seven clubs, according to sources, ready to challenge it. Yahya Abdul Karim, the chairman of the Competitions Committee, might also step down in protest. arizvi@thenational.ae