Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution investigating incident to protect public morality
Two football fans under investigation in Abu Dhabi for 'insulting' social media posts
Two fans of rival football clubs are being investigated by Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution after they exchanged "offensive" and "insulting" messages over social media platforms that violate the country’s cybercrime laws.
The fans are accused of exchanging inappropriate language on social media and officials from two local football fan clubs were ordered on Monday to check the accounts involved to find evidence as part of the investigations.
A statement from the public prosecution said: “Public morality and respecting others should be considered when exercising freedom of speech or criticism."
They said all practices that violate public order, morality and misuse modern technologies, especially social media, will be addressed firmly as part of the office's role in protecting the social, moral and religious values of society.
The public were warned against publishing audible, readable or visual content that could be considered harmful to society as they will be risking legal action.
Fans of the game said the incident was not a common one as rivalries rarely make it off the pitch.
“Not all of us have good sportsmanship and some get very angry after their club is defeated. Some verbal clashes can happen in the field, but not afterwards,” said Adel Al Bloushi, 28, a Fujairah club fan.
“We make funny comments about the players and coaches, but not in an offensive way, respecting the other teams is part of the game. It’s not only about winning and losing,” he said.
Mr Al Bloushi said most of the fans use Instagram to express their feelings and share opinions before and after the game.
“We share videos of the match, photos and press releases and we remind each other about the upcoming games. We also share our thoughts on the players' performances, but never use bad language as its inappropriate, disrespectful and against the law.”
Another fan said sometimes in big football matches, verbal clashes can happen but what happens in the game, stays in the game.
Ahmad Khalifa, a fan of Al Wasl Football club, said: “We don’t hold the anger inside after the game – we just forget about losing and prepare to cheer for our team during the next game."
The 25-year-old Emirati said sometimes silly language is used, but not offensive.
“We sing songs and repeat chants for both the winners and the losers. We sometimes comment on social media in a funny way that doesn’t mean any harm,” he said.
The UAE's Cybercrime Law includes stern punishments that could go upto a life sentence and/or a fine of between Dh50,000 and Dh3 million, depending on the severity and seriousness of the crime.