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The New Arab

UAE jails British man for supporting Qatar football team at Asian Cup

The UAE has outlawed "expressing sympathy" for Qatar [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2019

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Police in the United Arab Emirates has been holding a British man for over two weeks because he supported the Qatari football team during a match at the Asian Cup.

Police in the United Arab Emirates has been holding a British man for over two weeks because he supported the Qatari football team during a match at the Asian Cup.

UAE security forces arrested Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, in Abu Dhabi after the second-round match between Qatar and Iraq on 22 January because he wore a Qatar team jersey.

British newspaper The Guardian reported Ahmad's arrest on Tuesday, citing a friend of the detained football fan.

The UAE, which hosted the football tournament, is one of four Arab countries boycotting Doha over political differences.

The country has outlawed all "expression of sympathy" for Qatar and those convicted of the offense can face up to 15 years in prison.

"He just went to watch a football match while he was on holiday in UAE and says he was arrested and beaten after being accused of wearing a football shirt which promoted Qatar," Ahmad's friend told the newspaper.

"It seems that he was released after being detained, assaulted by the security men in the car and accused of promoting Qatar. He went to the police station to report the assault and was accused of telling lies about the incident,"

"We're not clear about exactly what happened next but he has been held because he is accused of making false allegations against UAE security officials," he added.

The report is the latest to reveal abuses in the Gulf state, which rights groups have long accused of carrying out systematic human rights violations.

A British man convicted in the UAE for spying last month said he was tortured before he was pardoned following pressure from the British government.

The British Foreign Office said that it is providing assistance to a British man arrested in the UAE.

The Qatari team defied all the odds to win the tournament last week, despite abuse from UAE fans and none of its fans being allowed to attend their games because of the blockade.

UAE authorities even attempted to have the team disqualified after they trashed the homeside 4-0 in the semi-finals in a game that saw shoes and bottles thrown at the Qatar players.

A small group of Omani fans had supported the Maroons throughout the tournament, but there have been no reports that any of them were arrested.

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