By Paul Nicholson
August 4 – A long running dispute between the UAE and Qatar that began in January 2019 at the Asian Cup over the eligibility two Qatari players, has finally been settled at CAS with the UAE losing its appeal against the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) decision that the players were eligible.
The CAS ruling means that the Asian Cup results all stand and Qatar remain the Asian Cup champions as per the final they won against Japan. Such is the importance of this decision that there could have been a wider knock-off effect as the players had played in other international competition with Ali Almoez having played in the Club World Cup.
The UAE’s claim was that they should be awarded the semi-final victory and all benefits resulting from the match, in particular in relation to the AFC Competitions Ranking.
The dispute was first raised within two hours of Qatar defeating the UAE 4-0 in the semi-final of the Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi. Against a political backdrop of the UAE’s participation in the blockade of Qatar, the match had been ill-tempered with a hostile crowd reaching boiling point with bottles and sandals raining on to the pitch (see Tempers fray, shoes fly, as Qatar hand 4-0 drubbing to Asian Cup hosts UAE).
The AFC’s ad hoc disciplinary committee meeting at the Asian Cup only ruled the two players could play in the final just four hours before it was due to kick-off.
The UAE in their claim said that Almoez Ali, a 22-year-old striker born in Sudan, and Bassam Al Rawi, a 21-year-old defender born in Baghdad, had not spent the previous five years in the country over the age of 18 to qualify for residency.
Almoez was the breakout forward of the tournament and scored the second Qatari goal in the win over the UAE. He went on to become the tournament’s top scorer beating Ali Daei’s 23-year-old AFC Asian Cup record
Ali and Al Rawi both claim their mothers were born in Qatar, but the UAE FA claimed it had documents proving Al Rawi’s mother was born in Baghdad. Al Rawi’s father had played for Iraq.
Following the Asian Cup the AFC confirmed the decision in April 2019 following further investigation, and again in May 2019 following an appeal by the UAE.
In June 2019 the UAE FA appealed to CAS on their contention that the mother of Almoez Ali was not born in Qatar, and the player should have been declared ineligible to Qatar. They didn’t challenge the eligibility of Bassam Al Rawi, who had been suspended for the semi-final.
In a statement on its ruling CAS said: “The CAS Panel noted that the mother of Almoez Ali holds dual nationality (Qatar/Sudan) but was comfortably satisfied that the Player is a Qatari national who never represented another national association and that he has other ties to his new country Qatar, notably that his biological mother was born in Qatar.”
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