UAE authorities order arrests over rare riot at soccer match

March 14, 2022 GMT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A soccer game in the United Arab Emirates erupted into violent scuffles between angry fans of opposing teams, a rare scene of chaos that led authorities to call for the arrest of “all rioters.”

Public prosecutors in the capital of Abu Dhabi issued an order Sunday to arrest those who instigated the riot at the match between the Al Ain and Al Wahda clubs, warning authorities “will respond firmly” and urging “sportsmanship among club fans to avoid endangering the lives and safety of others.”

The statement on the UAE’s state-run news agency WAM did not offer details on the number of arrested.

Footage posted on social media showed Emirati fans streaming onto the field in their traditional white kanduras and start attacking players as security guards rushed to restrain them.

Other video showed groups of men beating and flinging shoes at each other in the stadium stands. At least one spectator appeared to be injured lying on the ground as rival fans brawled. It wasn’t clear how many people were injured in the riot.

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The incident marked a rare outburst of violence in this business-friendly, tourism-focused Gulf Arab sheikhdom. Protests, demonstrations and political expression are heavily suppressed in the autocratic country.

Al Ain defeated close challenger Al Wahda in the match 1-0, extending their lead at the top of the league this season to seven points.