Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced they reject the complaints submitted by Al-Hilal Saudi Club against UAE’s Al-Ahli, about the participation of Moroccan player Osama Al-Saidi with Al-Ahli in the second leg of the semi-finals of the tournament, since he has not played with Al-Ahli in local games.
AFC said Al-Hilal protested that Al-Saidi, who played with Al-Ahli, was not registered properly in the UAE Football Association as per transfers’ rules. AFC responded that registering the player was done according to the rules, and therefore the player was entitled to play the match. They said both parties can appeal to the decision.
According to AFC’s decision, Al-Ahli’s qualification to the Champions League has become a reality even though their officials said they will appeal based on what they called a clear administrative mistake.
Al-Ahli managed to qualify for the final of the highest Asian tournament after an exciting match against Al-Hilal. The game a week ago ended in favor of the Emirati team, three goals to two. The third goal was scored in the minutes of the game. During the first half, Al-Ahli was leading with two goals to nothing but Al-Hilal was able to make a comeback and score two goals in the second half.
The 2-2 draw was enough to grant the Saudi team the card to qualify for the grand final, especially as the first leg had ended in a 1-1 draw in Saudi Arabia. But South Korean defender, Kiang Bon Kwan, had a different opinion when he scored a third final goal in the fifth minute of the extra time, qualifying Al-Ahli for the first time in its history.
Al-Hilal was agitated and filed the mentioned complaint based on Chapter 26, Article 3, which states that receiving AFC’s approval for registering a player does not mean his eligibility to play, where each club bears the responsibility of including the player in games and any consequences of illegal participation.
Al-Ahli officials moved quickly, confirming the soundness of the player’s participation. Club official Abdullah Nasser Al-Junaibi said Al-Saidi’s participation was legal since AFC rules bases the registration of player on the local association rules of player’s conditions numbered 36 (B), which permits the registration of additional players without stipulating the registry period, provided they do not participate locally except following AFC registration.
Saudi Arabian Football Federation said in a statement that it supports Al-Hilal’s position while the UAE Football Association provided all papers that support Al-Ahli’s position.
Twitter became a pitch for debate between fans of both teams. Former Saudi soccer star Sami Al-Jaber was called out and accused of eluding the Saudi team to the illegal participation of Al-Ahli’s player.
Al-Jaber, however, denied all accusations via his official twitter account. Al Hilal’s fans eternal rival, Al-Nassr, also took part in the debate criticising Al-Hilal’s attempt to qualify through an administrative mistake after failing in terms of technicalities and performance.
UAE’s Al-Ahli will meet its Chinese counterpart, Guangzhou Aafaragrand, in the AFC final in a home game on 7 November in the UAE, while the final match and the away game will be played on 21 November in China.