The highly-ranked footballer comments reportedly “harmed” the federation and management of the Qatar Stars League.
Award winning Qatari football champion Akram Afif has been temporarily suspended by the Qatar Football Association [QFA] for a total of two matches due to comments made to local media, the sports body announced on Sunday.
According to the statement, Afif was fined QAR 30,000 and was banned from playing at the next match in the QNB League, as well as the final match of the Qatar Cup.
The move against the Al Sadd player was made after he made remarks during an interview with Al-Kaas channel last week following the Qatar Cup semi-final match against Al-Rayyan.
Afif said his team was playing “against 11 and a half players” suggesting a biased referee was officiating the game.
The referee “did not provide us protection against rough play by Al Rayyan’s players”, Afif said, noting the official was also wearing “black shorts and socks” similar to the the opposing team.
The QFA’s decision ruled the comments were a violation of Articles No. 77/4 and 3-9/1 of the Discipline Regulations for the 2020-2021 sports season, which stipulates all those who make statements “that harm the federation or the management of the Qatar Stars League or any club or contradict their interests through the media or social media” face a penalty.
Social media outrage
Social media users in Qatar reacted to the decision, with some condemning Afif’s statements whiles others supporting the champion.
The hashtag #اكرم_عفيف_يمثلني [#Akram_Afif_Represents_Me] trended among football fans divided over the decision.
“When we see professionals from second leagues take it too far with Qatari football and officiating, they are not held accountable. If a national play demands his right and safety [on the pitch], and says the truth, you fine and ban him?” one Twitter user stated in protest of the decision.
Meanwhile, others took aim at the Qatar national team player and said his comments were out of line.
Afif is one of the most prominent football players in Qatar and made global headlines after he was named the Asian Football Confederation [AFC] Player of the Year in 2019, which saw Qatar take the win.