Saudi prince banned from entering stadiums
Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Nasser
A Saudi prince has been banned from entering stadiums for one year following his alleged involvement in an altercation at the end of a crucial match in the Saudi league.
The ban against Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Nasser was decided by the General President of Youth Welfare Prince Musaid Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud after a committee he set up to look into the incidents that followed the match between arch-rivals Al Hilal and Al Nasr, two Riyadh-based teams, submitted its report.
“The committee has studied the incidents and reported its findings and conclusions on Tuesday to the General Presidency of Youth Welfare (GPYW),” the GPYW said in a statement. “All the remarks by all the competent sides have been included in the final report presented to the general presidency.”
The incidents occurred as Al Nasr beat Al Hilal and became the football champions, and players and team officials were jubilantly celebrating the title.
Some pictures showed Prince Abdul Aziz, an honorary member of Al Nasr team, carrying his agal, the black rope used to secure the ghutra, the headdress, in his hand while a stadium steward was trying to hold him away from Al Hilal players.
The general presidency, the equivalent of a youth and sports ministry, said it wanted the Saudi league to issue new regulations governing the presence of officials on the sidelines of the football pitches.
The league was given two weeks to communicate the new regulations that must follow international standards to the teams competing in its competitions.
“There will be a zero-tolerance policy towards the strict application of the new rules to ensure that the incidents that occurred at the end of the match between Al Nasr and Al Hilal are not repeated,” the presidency said. “All clubs will have to fully respect the new regulations.”
Saudi team officials wearing civilian clothes are regularly seen sitting alongside coaches and substitute players on the benches on the side of the pitches.
The ban against Prince Abdul Aziz is the second strong action against a senior prince in Saudi sports, often regarded as one of the most challenging areas to handle in the kingdom.
Two weeks ago, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud banned a senior member of the royal family from appearing on public and private television channels after he uttered remarks deemed racist.
Prince Mamdooh Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, an honorary member of the Riyadh-based Al Nasr, has also been prevented from making statements to print or audio media and from taking part in all sports activities.
The ban was imposed after Prince Mamdooh in a live talk show on Saudi Sports Television questioned the merit of Adnan Jestiyeh, a sports writer, to comment on Saudi sports, referring to him as “Tarsh”.
The term is a pejorative reference to “pilgrim remnants”, usually young children left in the kingdom by their parents as they performed pilgrimage.
The ethnic slur is at times used against them even though they have been living for generations in Saudi Arabia and have been given rights as full Saudi citizens.
In March, King Salman insisted that all Saudis were equal.
“There are no differences among Saudi people or areas,” he said in an address to princes, religious scholars, judges, ministers, officials and army staff. “We are determined to address the roots of the divergences and the causes of divisions so that we can eliminate the categorisation of the society in a way that harms national unity. All Saudis are equal in rights and duties,” he said.