x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Expatriate proud to support Al Jazira

A Sri Lankan supporter ignores the feeling of loneliness to watch his local club in action.

Ronnie Muthalip is a precious commodity in the Pro League: an expatriate fan. And it is perhaps no coincidence, at this moment in history, that he is an Al Jazira supporter.

The 40-year-old accountant from Sri Lanka is a 15-year resident of Abu Dhabi and began attending Jazira matches because their stadium is near his home. He continues to go, in part, because of Jazira's aggressive marketing campaigns.

"With the kind of promotions they are having, it is exciting," Muthalip said.

"And because I signed up for the 'privilege' card I always know when the matches are being played because the information is e-mailed to me."

Muthalip said he attends matches alone; his wife is not interested and his two daughters are too young, though he may take them along someday.

He sits in what is, informally, the expatriate section of the stadium, in the middle of the north stand.

To his right cluster Jazira's "ultras" - young, male Emiratis who are by far the most vociferous fans in the stadium.

"I don't get the feeling they are happy I'm there, but I also don't get the feeling they're unhappy," Muthalip said. "At the end, we all want the same team to win."