SAFF condemns 'disgraceful' attack by fan on Al Ittihad's Abderrazak Hamdallah

Saudi Arabian Football Federation to review fan code of conduct after footage emerges of player being whipped following game in Abu Dhabi

Abderrazak Hamdallah, seen here representing Morocco at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, was involved in an altercation with a fan following Al Ittihad's 4-1 Saudi Super Cup final defeat to Al Hilal in the UAE. Getty
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The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has vowed to review its fan code of conduct after a "disgraceful" attack in which a spectator whipped an Al Ittihad player following a match in Abu Dhabi last week.

The incident occurred on Thursday evening following Al Ittihad's 4-1 Saudi Super Cup final defeat to domestic rivals Al Hilal at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium.

Footage on social media shows Al Ittihad striker Abderrazak Hamdallah, a Moroccan, involved in a heated exchange – and flinging water at – a fan in the stands, who then strikes Hamdallah with what appears to be a whip.

The footage shows stadium security, spectators and players intervening to separate the fan and Hamdallah.

Hamdallah scored in the 21st minute but his team went on to lose 4-1.

The SAFF and Football Players Association of Saudi Arabia said in a statement at the weekend they were "shocked with the disgraceful scenes involving a physical attack by an individual spectator on a member of the team from Al Ittihad Club" and that their priority was to ensure the safety of everyone at matches.

"Football in Saudi Arabia is a family game and, thankfully, fan disorder is extremely rare. It's why the actions of this 'so called' fan go against all that Saudi football represents and we completely condemn the incident," said the statement.

"There will be a thorough review of the spectator code of conduct. The review will ensure updated rules and regulations are put in place to swiftly and effectively impose suitable penalties to help avoid any repeat of such incidents."

The governing bodies said that even though the match took place outside Saudi Arabia, they “stand united in their commitment to prioritise safety and well-being at stadiums and will keep implementing comprehensive measures to maintain a secure environment for everyone involved in the game”.

The National has contacted Abu Dhabi Police for comment on the incident and whether any legal action may be taken.

It is not the first time opposition fans and players involving Saudi teams have clashed this season.

In February, Al Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo was hit with a one-match suspension and a fine by the SAFF for making a perceived obscene gesture towards Al Shabab fans during a league match.

Ronaldo, 39, was captured on video immediately after his side’s 3-2 win at Al Shabab reacting to chants of “Messi” from the home crowd by cupping his ear. He then repeatedly thrust his hand towards his pelvic area.

Chants of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo's longtime rival, aimed at goading the Portuguese superstar have become commonplace at opposition grounds in Saudi Arabia. Last April, he was accused of making an obscene gesture towards Hilal supporters after Nassr had been beaten 2-0 in a title showdown at their city rivals.

Following another 2-0 defeat to Hilal earlier this month in the Riyadh Season Cup final, Ronaldo reacted to having a Hilal scarf thrown at him by putting it inside his shorts and hurling it back at the stands

Saudi Arabia has made huge strides to become a global force in football in recent years.

It is the sole candidate to host the World Cup in 2034 and the Saudi Pro League has offered eye-watering salaries to lure stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema to the kingdom.

Updated: April 16, 2024, 6:47 AM