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AFC to probe sandal throwing at Asian Cup semifinal

ABU DHABI, Jan 30, (RTRS): The Asian Football Confederation has launched an investigation into the throwing of objects, including a barrage of sandals, at Qatar players during Tuesday’s Asian Cup semifinal against United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. Three Qatar players were showered with footwear and drinks bottles thrown by a hostile crowd while celebrating goals in the 4-0 thrashing of hosts UAE, which secured a place in the final against Japan.

“The AFC is conducting a thorough investigation into events at the Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi f i n a l between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi,” an AFC spokesman said on Wednesday. “Once that investigation has been completed the AFC will decide on the appropriate next steps.”

Throwing a shoe at someone is considered a major insult in the Arab world, where it is rude to sit with the sole of a shoe pointing at another person. The incidents followed the booing of the visitors’ national anthem and were an embarrassment for the host nation, which with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in 2017.

The four nations accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which the Gulf emirate – host nation for the 2022 World Cup – denies. With no Qatar fans travelling to the match because of the boycott, local sports officials had ensured a full house for the fixture by giving away thousands of free tickets to Emiratis. Neither the UAE’s General Sport Authority nor the local organising committee responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

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