It has been revealed that soccer fans in the United Arab Emirates can be paid up to Dh75 ($21) to go and support teams in the UAE Pro League.
According to the league’s vice-chairman, Abdullah Al Junaibi, this is an action borne out of a culture known to be very ‘hospitable and charitable.’
“We need to realise the short history of football companies in the UAE,” he told the Abu Dhabi paper, The National. “It was just four or five years ago that they transformed themselves into football companies. However, the mentality and mindset of their fans have perhaps not been transformed completely.
“Previously, as a social club, the football team was seen as part of the extended family of the fans. And in this case, especially in our culture, where we are known to be very hospitable and charitable to our families and relatives, clubs and fans alike do not think that it is right for fans to be paying for tickets.”
In Western culture, this would be seen as a dream ticket. Particularly in a league which previously had Diego Maradona coaching in it and currently has players of the quality of Asamoah Gyan, Lucas Neill and Ricardo Oliveira plying their trade, it is surprising that fans need coerced.
However, it does take time to change a culture. Fans in the UAE are therefore being offered an average of Dh50 ($14) to attend games and an additional Dh25 “if they are adjudged to have performed admirably, singing and clapping and chanting throughout the match.”
The 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar. Obviously some of the wealthier individuals in the Arab states have taken to soccer and are looking to invest. While the likes of Europe’s Manchester City and Paris St. Germain have benefited from such spending, perhaps there is now the opportunity to invest heavily in grass roots soccer locally.
They just have to convince the punters first.