Saturday, August 22, 2015


Refused Admission To Arabian League Game

In more than 40 years of watching football in some 20 countries I had never but never been refused admission to a stadium.

There are times when I wish I had; a particularly dire 0-0 draw between Aldershot and Rochdale in 1980 springs to mind as well as an IPL game between Jakarta and Semarang United back in 2011.

But nope, on something like 1,000 occassions I have gone to a game, bought a ticket and entered the stadium. You may think that was fairly normal and yes so did I. Until last night.

After watching Al Shabab secure three points against Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf League I waited yonks for a taxi before heading to Oud Metha to catch Al Nasr take on Emirates in their first game of the season. Some people visit Dubai for tall buildings or malls, me I go for the football.

In good faith I handed over my 50 AED, got my ticket and had the stub torn off as usual. I climbed the stairs and offered my bag to security for them to check. Now in recent weeks I have had my bag checked at places like Hibernian and Hartlepool and Al Shabab without any issue but not this time.

Over officious security at Al Nasr wanted me to remove everything from my bag. Everything. And there at the very bottom of the bag they must have come up trumps. They found not a stash of drugs nor a dangerous weapon but a camera. Not a professional job, just a slightly battered D40 with a small lens.

Sorry, they said, you can't take the camera inside. Better you put it back in your car.

Car? I came by taxi I replied.

Well, leave your bag on the table and pick it up after the game.

Yeah right. I played the dumb tourist to no avail, these jobsworth were not going to budge.

According to these men in uniform taking a camera into the stadium was a breach of the rules.

So I have scanned the terms and conditions on the sale of tickets to Arabian Gulf League game and lo and behold among the list of prohibited items...there is nothing about cameras. Nothing.

There is however an interesting clause, 6, which states that should anything happen to my property, vis a vis my bag, then no one would claim any responsibility.

Now I could have tried buying a ticket for another part of the ground and see how I fared but I decided sod it. I went to the pub for a few before flying home.

The irony is a local paper in the UAE has been doing articles about attracting more expats to games, something of course I fully agree with. But small minded men in uniform deciding who can or cannot enter a stadium on their own whim will soon nip that in the bud.

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