x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Diego Maradona's Al Wasl goalkeeper hit with huge ban

Majed Naser suspended for 17 matches following his altercation with the Al Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores after Al Wasl's Etisalat Cup semi-final defeat.

Quique Sanches Flores, and Diego Maradona following the Etisalat Cup semi-final on Monday. Courtesy of Al Ittihad
Quique Sanches Flores, and Diego Maradona following the Etisalat Cup semi-final on Monday. Courtesy of Al Ittihad

DUBAI // Swift and decisive action has been taken against Majed Naser, the Al Wasl goalkeeper, after he was banned for 17 matches for his “violent act” against the manager of Al Ahli in the fractious Etisalat Cup semi-final clash.

The Football Association’s disciplinary committee handed out the punishment following the incident on Sunday night which saw Naser slap Quique Sanchez Flores on the back of his head after the 1-0 defeat.

Al Wasl initially suspended the player indefinitely on Sunday night and the keeper, who played for the UAE in the 4-2 victory over Lebanon last month, went to the house of Sanchez Flores after the game to apologise for his behaviour.

According to a Wasl official, the Spaniard accepted the apology.

The goalkeeper, 27, also issued a statement through the Dubai club, saying: “I offer my apologies to the President of Al Wasl Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum and Vice President Sheikh Majed for my behaviour. I would also like to sincerely apologise to all Al Wasl fans.”

Wasl condemned his actions

“This type of behaviour not only damages the reputation of the individual, but is also detrimental to the image of the club as a whole, and will not be tolerated. Players are considered a reflection of the club and are therefore expected to be role models of Al Wasl’s values and ethics.”

Naser was punished for a similar offence in 2007 when he struck a linesman during a match against Al Jazira. He was initially banned for 13 matches, but the suspension was reduced to five games on appeal.

On Sunday night, Naser charged at Sanchez Flores, who was celebrating with his players, slapping him from behind.

He had to be restrained by Wasl training staff, including Diego Maradona, the Wasl coach, who acted as peacemaker.

“I didn’t see it, but it felt like a camera was pushing my head,” Sanchez Flores, the former Atletico Madrid coach, said after the game.

“Then I saw that it was the goalkeeper, and I did not know the reason because I didn’t do anything to incite a push. I didn’t deserve this. I have never done anything in my life to receive a push. I am fine, but I don’t like it. I have messages on my phone from people in Spain asking what happened, what happened in Arabian football, is the goalkeeper crazy? It is a strange situation.”

Al Ahli’s Luis Jimenez was handed a one-match ban in January for butting the referee in a Pro League game against Jazira.

“I think this is bad for football in general, very bad for Arabian football in particular, and I hope there will be a fine for this player [Naser],” Sanchez Flores said.

arizvi@thenational.ae