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Friday February 03, 2023

Pak vs Afg: Brawling fans in Asia Cup fixture fined AED3,000 by UAE authorities

The police has warned those fined that if such violence occurs again, they may be jailed or deported

September 09, 2022
Screengrab of video showing clash between Pakistan and Afghanistan fans.—Shoaib Akhtar/Twitter
Screengrab of video showing clash between Pakistan and Afghanistan fans.—Shoaib Akhtar/Twitter

Rowdy spectators who clashed with one another in the stands at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium during the Asia Cup match between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been fined AED3,000 by UAE authorities, it emerged on Friday.

The amount, in Pakistani rupees, is equivalent to roughly Rs200,000.

The police has warned those fined that if such violence occurs again, they may be jailed or deported.

In a nail-biting contest in the Super Four stage of the tournament, Pakistan beat Afghanistan by one wicket and secured a ticket to the final.

Naseem Shah’s two sixes from the first two balls of the final over helped Pakistan snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The one-wicket win means that Pakistan will now take on Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup.

Fans who appeared to be supporting Afghanistan were incensed at the outcome.

Footage showed some pulling out bucket seats and flinging them at spectators believed to be Pakistani supporters. Significant damage was done to the stands, including to cushioned seats that were torn up.

A day earlier, UAE authorities said that they will be closely monitoring spectators and any damages caused to the premises or injuries inflicted upon other spectators will be dealt with sternly.

They added that fans should follow the rules and that the field of sports demands sportsmanship from all, including viewers.

Separately, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to raise the matter with the both the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), sources said.

Addressing the media, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said: "You can't link hooliganism with cricket and this environment makes you sick. We will write to ICC, raise concerns, and do whatever we can because the visuals were gruesome.

"This [crowd trouble after an Afghanistan-Pakistan game] didn't happen for the first time. Wins and losses are a part of the game. It was a gruelling contest, but emotions should have been kept in control. Until the environment is right, you can't grow and go forward as a cricket-playing nation.

"So we are going to express our anguish and frustration to the ICC. We owe it to our fans, anything could have happened... Our team could have been in danger... So whatever the protocol is we will follow that and lodge our protest."

The trigger for the incident is believed to be a heated exchange between Afghanistan pacer Fareed Ahmad and Pakistan batter Asif Ali, whom the bowler had dismissed.

Fareed threw punches in the air to celebrate the wicket, visibly very close to Asif's face. Asif in turn pushed Fareed back and raised his bat close to the pacer's face.

Words were exchanged between the two before Afghanistan's Azmatullah Umarzai and Pakistan's Hasan Ali intervened to defuse the situation.

Both have been punished for breaching Level 1 of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Code of Conduct.

The ICC, in a statement issued in this regard, said that the pair have been fined 25% of their match fees.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board put out two tweets yesterday calling for people to "work together".

"Cricket is regarded as a phenomenon of harmony and more intimate relations between nations.

"Let's work together for bringing the cricket fraternity closer. Cricket does not allow for us to show negative emotions on the field and turn the friendship atmosphere into violence," one of them read.

Earlier, former Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Shafiq Stanikzai said that Asif should be banned.

"This is stupidity at extreme level by Asif Ali and should be banned from the rest of the tournament, any bowler has the right to celebrate but being physical is not acceptable at all," Stanikzai had tweeted.

Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in response to the incident said: "Afghan players put right back into their place by 19-year-old kid Naseem Shah. Unforgettable match against people we have loved and supported always. Lekin bat tamizi aur arrogance nay un no foran neecha dikhaya." (But bad behaviour and arrogance showed them in poor light).

In a subsequent tweet, which accompanied a video of the violence that broke out, he wrote with regret: "This is what Afghan fans are doing. This is what they've done in the past multiple times.This is a game and its supposed to be played and taken in the right spirit. @ShafiqStanikzai your crowd and your players both need to learn a few things if you guys want to grow in the sport."

It is not uncommon for fans of both countries to clash with one another, ESPNcricinfo reported. During last year's T20 World Cup, fans from both teams tried to forcibly enter the Dubai stadium. Upon resistance by authorities, heated exchanges took place between both groups, leading to the barriers being knocked over.

In the 2019 ODI World Cup, fans who had come to watch a match between Pakistan and Afghanistan fought in the stands, tossed rubbish onto the field and invaded the pitch as the players fled to the dressing rooms.

According to ESPNcricinfo, Afghanistan and Pakistan will next meet in Brisbane on October 19 in a warm-up match  in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup.