Saudi reviews football fan rules after whip attack



RIYADH:

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has vowed to review the fan code of conduct after a “disgraceful” attack in which a spectator appeared to whip a player.

The incident occurred on Thursday during a match between Saudi teams Al Ittihad and Al Hilal at the Saudi Super Cup in Abu Dhabi.

Footage circulating online shows Al Ittihad striker Abderrazak Hamdallah, a Moroccan national, getting into a tense exchange with — and flinging water on — a thobe-wearing fan in the stands who then strikes Hamdallah with what looks like a whip.

Spectators and players then intervene to separate the two men.

Hamdallah scored in the 21st minute but his team went on to lose 4-1.

SAFF and the Football Players Association of Saudi Arabia said in a statement at the weekend that they were “shocked with the disgraceful scenes” and that their priority was to ensure the safety of everyone at matches.

“Football in Saudi Arabia is a family game and, thankfully, fan disorder is extremely rare. It’s why the actions of this ‘so called’ fan go against all that Saudi football represents and we completely condemn the incident,” said the statement dated Sunday.

“There will be a thorough review of the spectator code of conduct. The review will ensure updated rules and regulations are put in place to swiftly and effectively impose suitable penalties to help avoid any repeat of such incidents.”

Saudi Arabia has made strides to become a global force in football.

It is the sole candidate to host the World Cup in 2034 and the Saudi Pro League has offered eye-watering salaries to lure stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema.



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