ABU DHABI // Saleh Obaid, the captain of Al Jazira, has delivered a stinging indictment on the standard of refereeing in the Emirates. The centre-back has accused officials in the Pro League of taking an aggressive attitude towards players. "The way they talk to us on the field, they treat us like we are their kids," he said. "They shout at us too much. They have to be polite, then we can accept it and it is no problem for us."
Obaid said errors made by officials were hindering the progression of the Pro League, which was relaunched last summer with the aim of improving the standard of football in the country. The former Juventus commercial director Romy Gai was brought in as chief executive of the league and the Asian Football Confederation gave the country four plays in the Asian Champions League - the top level of continental competition in Asia.
But Obaid said more most be done if the league is to be taken seriously. "The referees make a lot of mistake. Not just against us, against everybody," he said. "They are not professional, they have to go to work. You can't make the players professional and the referees not. Professional, that means the players, clubs, managers, everybody. "When we play with the national team outside the UAE, when you give away a free-kick, even if it's a red card, the way the referee says it to you is so you accept it."
Ali Hamad, one of the country's top officials, said last night that referee standards in the Pro League are no lower than those in other leagues. "I am not saying there have been no mistakes made, but referees make mistakes all over the world," he said. "We have a lot of games in the season and there are bound to be a few mistakes. If you have one or two bad decisions I think it is acceptable. "If you see the other leagues there are a lot more mistakes and some highly controversial incidents."