British football fan says ‘tortured’ in UAE for supporting Qatar squad

A British man says he was detained, verbally abused and tortured in the United Arab Emirates for wearing a jersey of the Qatar national football team during the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup.

Ali Issa Ahmad, from Wolverhampton in central England, said he wore the apparel during a group stage match between Iraq and Qatar on January 22, without knowing anything about the diplomatic row between Abu Dhabi and Doha, the Arabic service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported.

The 26-year-old dual Sudanese-British citizen added that a group of men followed him after the game, claiming they were police officers. They ripped his Qatar’s jersey and followed him to the hotel, where he was staying on holiday.

Ahmad noted that the purported police officers followed him again when he decided to leave the hotel. The Briton was then attacked in the car he was renting.


When he arrived at a gas station to ask for an ambulance, a uniformed Emirati police officer arrived at the scene, arrested him and then took him for interrogation.

“The traces of what happened (to me) spread all over my body. I was beaten. I lost my teeth, and was wounded. I was tortured by electricity, and stabbed when I was in the cell.

“I was forced to sign a statement in exchange for some water. I have a lot of nightmares now. Not only did they torture me physically, but they also called me terrible names especially because I am black,” Ahmad pointed out.

Ahmed’s lawyers said FIFA was unable to meet its obligations to protect the rights of fans and to prevent racial discrimination against them.

They said they had lodged complaints with the British Foreign Office and the UN Human Rights Council against UAE authorities.

“It is a shame that Ali has been tortured harshly and without justification while attending an international football competition in the UAE,” said Rodney Dickson, head of Ahmed’s lawyer team.

“A football fan should not suffer such inhumane and racist treatment, and FIFA must take action to hold those responsible accountable,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

On June 9, 2017, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.

Later that month, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.

The document also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement. Qatar rejected the demands as “unreasonable.”

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