“There is no support from our own fans, so how will the players be motivated,” Mahdi Ali asked on Tuesday, after a 4-0 loss to Uzbekistan in Abu Dhabi. “The other day, the Australians had more support for them than us in the stadium. I wish not to play any games at home but outside the country. It is really disappointing.”My family and I attended the UAE v Australia friendly last weekend. There was a lot of support for the Aussies, though I'm not sure that there wasn't more support for the Emirates. But the stadium was very empty, especially for a weekend match against a team that just competed in the World Cup a couple of months ago.
One of the lines in the story really resonated with our experience: "One of the most important opportunities UAE football could embrace is tapping into the giant expat community and market, people who sometimes feel unwelcome at national team matches".
We went to the match with the intention of supporting the UAE. But when we got there, the security at the game made go sit with the Australian fans. We weren't made to feel unwelcome, exactly, but it wasn't the most welcoming environment either. And it was easier, by far, to get information about the time and place and cost (free!) for the match from the Australian FA website than from the English side of the UAE FA site (I will say that it is quite possible that the Arabic site might have had all details).
And for the Uzbekistan match, the English UAE FA site said that the match was in Dubai at 3:00 pm and not Abu Dhabi at 6:30, where it really took place.
It is the same with the club teams here. We went to one Al Ain FC match and had a great time. But trying to find out information in English about when, where, and how much is nearly impossible.
Have any other expats tried to support either the national team or a club team? What was your experience?