ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has launched an investigation into a shoe-throwing incident during the hotly-contested match between rivals Qatar and the United Arab Emirates during the semi-final of the 2019 Asian Cup on Tuesday.
Qatar, who have yet to lose a match in this year’s tournament, swept past hosts UAE, beating them 4-0.
The incident in question occurred after Almoez Ali put the Qataris 2-0 up on 37 minutes. UAE fans tossed shoes – an action which is considered an insult – and bottles at the Qatar players who were celebrating the goal.
Ahead of the match, UAE fans, who almost entirely filled the 42,000-seat Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, booed the Qatari national anthem.
The two Gulf nations have been locked in a political row since last June when the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other nations severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, which had been accused of supporting terrorism.
Doha has vehemently denied the allegations, labeling the embargo “unjustified” and with “no basis in fact.”
“The AFC is conducting a thorough investigation into events at the [semi-final],” a spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday.
“Once the investigation has been completed, the AFC will decide on the appropriate steps.”
Qatar, who host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, will appear in their first ever Asian Cup final when they play Japan on Friday.
The 2019 Asian Cup began on Jan. 5 and will continue until Feb. 1.
For the first time, Asia’s largest continental tournament includes 24 teams instead of the traditional 16-team format used in previous competitions.
Japan is the most successful team in Asian Cup history, having won the title on four separate occasions.
Their latest triumph came in 2011 when they beat Australia 1-0 after extra time.
Editing by John J. Catherine