NEWS
06/02/2019 10:24 GMT

Brit Held In UAE Over Qatar Football Shirt Row

He has been charged with wasting police time.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Qatar players lift the trophy after winning the AFC Asian Cup final match between Japan and Qatar in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The United Arab Emirates’ UK embassy has denied reports that a British man allegedly beaten up in the Gulf nation was arrested because he was wearing a Qatar football shirt.

Ali Issa Ahmad, who is said to be 26 and from Wolverhampton, was held in Sharjah in January.

The London embassy said he had gone to a police station claiming to have been assaulted by fans of the UAE’s national team.

However, a doctor judged his injuries appeared to have been self-inflicted, the embassy said.

The BBC reported that Ahmad was on holiday in the UAE and went to watch Qatar play Iraq in an Asian Cup match in Abu Dhabi on 22 January.

Qatar and several of its neighbours, including the UAE, are locked in a political and diplomatic dispute over Doha’s alleged support for radical Islamist groups.

The UK Foreign Office, which said it is assisting a British man arrested in the UAE, has warned that authorities there deem “showing sympathy for Qatar” is an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

In a statement, the UAE’s London embassy said Ahmad was “categorically not arrested for wearing a Qatar football shirt”.

“We understand from the authorities in Sharjah emirate that Mr Issa Ahmad, a dual Sudanese-British citizen, presented himself to the police station there in January claiming he had been harassed and beaten up by UAE national football fans for cheering the Qatar team at the AFC Club tournament.

“The police took him to hospital where a doctor who examined him concluded that his injuries were inconsistent with his account of events and appeared to be self-inflicted.”

The embassy said Ahmad was charged with wasting police time and making false statements on 24 January.

“We are advised he has since admitted those offences and will now be processed through UAE courts,” the embassy said.

It added that “due process has been followed” and Ahmad, an Arabic speaker, “fully understands the situation he has put himself in”.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing assistance to a British man arrested in the United Arab Emirates and are in touch with the local authorities.”