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11 December 2023

UAE, Kuwait call off friendly over recording dispute

UAE playing against Jordan in a friendly. (courtesy UAEFA)

By Reuters

A disagreement over the recording of a pre-Asian Cup friendly between the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait led to a last-minute cancellation of the match on Saturday, robbing both teams of vital match practice before the Jan. 9-31 tournament.

The players had lined up in the tunnel ahead of the game on the Gold Coast but it was called off after the UAE refused to agree to Kuwait's request to record the match.

In a statement on its website, the UAE Football Association said both sides had previously agreed to play the friendly behind closed doors without recording, broadcasting and the presence of the media or public.

"The Kuwaiti delegation has unfortunately declined to adhere to the previous agreement under which an official letter was sent to the Kuwaiti FA on December 15, and clearly stipulated that the match should not be telecast, recorded or open for the media and the public," it said.

"But, the Kuwaitis insisted on filming the game and this was against the purposes of the technical staff of the UAE national team."

The differences seemed to have been sorted out with the players lining up in the tunnel but the game did not proceed.

"At this stage, the Kuwaiti team's manager escalated the situation and threatened that the match could be cancelled unless their requirement is responded to," the UAE FA said.

"And since the Kuwaiti last minute demand conflicts with the objectives of the UAE national team, the persons in charge have rejected the Kuwaiti request and the match was cancelled in the process."

Kuwait's FA said in a statement on its website that UAE officials had initially responded positively to their request at a dinner hosted by the Kuwaiti team but suggested they discuss the matter with UAE coach Mahdi Ali.

After the pre-match warmups, Ali refused to allow Kuwait coach Nabil Maaloul to use a private camera to film the match for training purposes despite the presence of many members of the Australian community with cameras, Kuwait's FA said.

"Maaloul refused to hold the match asserting that it is not possible to take such behaviour, which deviates from sportsmanship spirit, lightly," it added.

Kuwait have failed to advance beyond the group stage in their last two appearances in 2004 and 2011 and it gets no easier this time around as they face hosts Australia, South Korea and Oman in Group A.

The Kuwaitis also have a new coach in former Tunisian international Maaloul after Brazilian Jorvan Vieira was sacked in November following a poor Gulf Cup of Nations.

The UAE have had a more settled run under coach Mahdi Ali, who was appointed in 2012, and have been drawn in Group C with Iran, Bahrain and Qatar.

Kuwait, who play Australia in the tournament opener at Melbourne's Rectangular Stadium on Jan. 9, opted to host a training session at the ground instead.

The UAE will begin their campaign next Sunday against Qatar in Canberra.