As Qatar beat its political rival UAE at the Asian Cup semi-final, Emirati fans hurled shoes at the winning team and stormed the pitch.
The political rivalry between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pervaded football too. On Sunday, the two Gulf countries competed for finals at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, and Qatar emerged triumphant handing a 4-0 defeat to their Emirati rivals.
Because of the blockade imposed on Qatar by the Saudi-led bloc of Gulf nations, which includes the UAE, the match was shrouded in intense political tensions, which was clearly visible on and off the field.
Before the match, UAE fans booed during the national anthem of Qatar.
UAE fans threw shoes at Qatari players. They started off the game with booing national anthem. International bodies should reconsider giving UAE the chance to host reputed sporting events @iyad_elbaghdadi @Ali_H_Soufan @Reem_AlHarmi @ALThani_M @alibakeerpic.twitter.com/NENY16AQIL— Olivia thomas (@oliviathomas43) January 29, 2019
Emiratis were eagerly anticipating the match as the diplomatic crisis between the nations continues.
The atmosphere got tenser as Qatar took the lead in the 22nd minute.
Fans throwing shoes at the Qatari players after they score their 2nd goal 😲 pic.twitter.com/zCxyhZeWOc— Jordan Gardner (@mrjordangardner) January 29, 2019
After Almoez Ali scored a stunning goal, increasing Qatar's lead 2-0, the UAE fans threw slippers, bottles and shoes, onto the field as the Qatari football team celebrated.
“I apologise to the fans for the result. We tried our best,” said UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni, whose contract came to an end with the defeat.
“We kept trying, but we have to admit the Qatar team were the better team tonight.”
Qataris celebrated their win against the UAE. The victory also marks their first time in the Asian Cup final.
The AFC said to Al Jazeera that it is "conducting a thorough investigation into events at the Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar."