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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Al Jazira's anger as footballer Romarinho held in Qatar for 24 hours 

Romarinho had travelled to Doha during the week but was then banned from leaving the country

Al Jazira's Romarinho, centre, was held in Qatar for 24 hours following a dispute relating to his former team. Courtesy: Al Jazira Club
Al Jazira's Romarinho, centre, was held in Qatar for 24 hours following a dispute relating to his former team. Courtesy: Al Jazira Club

An Al Jazira football player was held in Qatar against his will for 24 hours in what it described as an unacceptable "breach of his human rights", the club said on Thursday.

Romário Ricardo da Silva, commonly known as Romarinho, had travelled to Doha during the week but was then banned from leaving the country.

According to the chief executive of Al Jazira, Ayed Mabkhout, Romarinho was only told at the airport that he could not travel.

“He travelled to Qatar because he was a former player and had some financial matters that he needed to resolve. As he was leaving ... the airport, he was told that he was not allowed to travel,” Mr Mabkhout told The National.

“The reason they said was that [either] he owed money or Al Jazira club had to pay Qatar ... transfer fees."

Al Jazira are the reigning Arabian Gulf League champions and signed Romarinho, 26, this summer when he was a free agent. He became the club’s fourth foreign player.

“That a player has to pay transfer fees is not true,” Mr Mabkhout said.

“Neither the player nor Al Jazira club have to pay anything and even if there was a fee, there are competent authorities that Qatar should complain to. They have no right to stop Romarinho from travelling. He might have had family commitments, training or a football match.

“Qatar wants to organise large championships, including the World Cup, and then they do mistakes like this, that shows people they have no knowledge or understanding of laws and procedures."

Romarinho (L) previously played for El-Jaish. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo
Romarinho (L) previously played for El-Jaish. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Al Jazira's media manager, Mohammed Abdulrahman, said that “Romarinho is still in shock" and was in a "terrible psychological state", but made training on Thursday.

According to Al Jazira, a group of lawyers was hired to assess the situation in coordination with the UN, Fifa, the Asian Football Confederation, the UAE Football Association and the Brazilian Consulate in Doha.

"Their efforts led to his immediate release whereby he returned to Abu Dhabi," the club said.

He arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday morning and immediately started training for the Al Jazira match against Al Ain on Friday in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

“I am happy to be back in the UAE," Romarinho said in a statement.

"I felt safe as soon as I arrived to the capital, Abu Dhabi. I thank all the players, technical and managerial staff on the warm reception.”

Romarinho was previously at Qatar’s El Jaish, scoring 40 goals in 72 Qatari Stars League appearances. He helped the club to a semi-final appearance at last year’s Asian Champions League. There, El Jaish were beaten by Al Ain.

El Jaish are now defunct having been merged with another club to form Al Duhail.

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Jazira's legal team is now working to assess the 'psychological and emotional damage' that the travel ban caused Romarinho.

The club said the episode was a violation of the player's human rights and it will be seeking financial compensation for the damage caused.

Jazira added it is taking all necessary legal measures to ensure the rights of the club and its players.

It is believed that Romarinho had travelled to Qatar via Oman because of the current political situation. The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut travel, trade and diplomatic links with the country on June 5 over concerns that Qatar is funding terrorism.

Romarinho previously played for Corinthians before the €7.5 million (Dh36.3m) move to Qatar. Before Corinthians he played for Bragantino, São Bernardo and Rio Branco.

His Al Jazira career got off to the perfect start last month. The striker scored one and nabbed an assist in a 2-1 victory over Ajman. But they have lost the past two games.