The UAE Football Federation (UAE FA) has taken swift and stern action by removing Mohammed Khalfan Al Harasi from the country's Olympic team (Under-23) squad for the Asian Games in Indonesia, after the young midfielder ignited the fight, which led to a massive brawl during a friendly against Malaysia at the Shah Alam Stadium in Selangor, Malaysia on Friday.
The Khaleej Times first broke the news in the UAE on Friday night.
The UAE FA also issued an apology to the Malaysian team and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) over the unfortunate incident.
"The UAE Football Association apologises for the incident that took place during UAE's friendly against Malaysia on Friday," the FA said in a statement.
"The Football Federation expresses its regret and rejection of the events that accompanied the match. The main culprit was our Olympic team player Mohammed Khalfan Al Harasi, which is not related to our morals and our sporting spirit, which is always a slogan for all our National teams and clubs during all matches, both official and friendly and in various regional, continental and international championships.
The Football Federation has apologised to the Malaysian Football Association for the unfortunate events that do not represent the UAE player's ethics. Sport is ethical before it is competitive," the statement added.
Apart from being sent back home, the 19-year-old faces even more strict punishment after the Al Ain playmaker was referred to a disciplinary committee of the FA.
"Based on the preliminary report submitted by the administrative body of the Olympic team, it was decided to remove the player Mohammed Khalfan Al Harasi from the list of the team participating in the Asiad and has referred him to the Disciplinary Committee of the UAEFA to take necessary action according to the regulations," the FA said.
Meanwhile, the FAM, said that they had submitted a report to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) following talks with UAE FA Vice President Abdulla Naser Al Junaibi and Secretary General Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri.
"In regards to the brawl that took place towards the end of the international match between Malaysia U-23 and UAE U-23 at the Shah Alam Stadium last night, the FAM President, Dato' Haji Hamidin Haji Mohd Amin and I have acted promptly," FAM Secretary General Stuart Ramalingam said in a statement.
"Dato' Haji Hamidin and I immediately held discussions with UAE FA through their General Secretary Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri and Vice President Abdulla Naser Al Junaibi along with General Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Dato' Windsor John. After the discussion, FAM received a formal letter from UAE FA stating that they apologise for the incident and take seriously of what happened and will be conducting an internal investigation for actions to be taken against players and team officials involved.
"On FAM's side however, we will be submitting a report from the Match Commissioner (MC) and referee to AFC today and will follow up with AFC if they need anything else after AFC examines the reports from all parties," the statement added.
The ugly incident took place in the third minute of four minutes of stoppage time with Malaysia leading 2-0. Mohamed Khalfan Al Harasi kicked Malaysian defender Adib Zainuddin in an off-the-ball incident after which all hell broke loose. Players from both sides joined in the skirmish, throwing punches and kicks at each other. Referee Suhaizi Shukri tried to control the situation but the matter had got out of hand by then.
The fracas, which began in the middle of the pitch, spilled onto the technical area and even though some of the UAE players and officials tried to diffuse the situation, it spiralled out of control with a few UAE officials and the bench of both sides getting involved in the fight.
The local police personnel, had a tough time in restoring order before things finally calmed down and the players were taken off the pitch and onto the players' tunnel. The friendly was part of a warm-up in the run up to the Asian Games in Indonesia.
UAE Olympic team midfielder Mohammed Khalfan Al Harasi has claimed that a Malaysian player spat and assaulted him and said that he retaliated in self-defence.
The 19-year-old sparked a free-for-all brawl after he kicked Malaysian defender dib Zainuddin in an off-the-ball incident during a friendly at the Shah Alam Stadium in Malaysia. The fracas took place in the third minute of four minutes of stoppage time with Malaysia leading 2-0.
Players from both sides joined in, throwing punches and kicks at each other with a UAE staff member also seen resorting to using a chair. The fight, which began in the middle of the pitch, spilled onto the technical area.
Mohammed Khalfan Al Harasi, who has since been sent back home from the squad, which is set to compete at the Asian Games in Indonesia, claimed however that it was a Malaysian player who started the fight.
The Malaysian player spat at me and assaulted me with his hand and he fell on the ground in an attempt to mislead everyone. And then his colleagues attacked me with the aim of beating me without a ball. I was only finding a way to defend myself," said Mohammed Khalfan Al Harasi, who did not name the Malaysian player.
By James Jose
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