Six Saudi Arabian football internationals have been punished for disciplinary violations ahead of the recent AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.
Coach of the Green Falcons Roberto Mancini dropped a bombshell before the tournament when he revealed that the reason behind the axing of three of the team’s more experienced players — Salman Al-Faraj of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr pair Sultan Al-Ghannam and Nawaf Al-Aqidi — was their refusal to play in certain friendly games prior to the main event in Qatar.
The announcement caused uproar at the time among fans, with suggestions that the Italian’s action could affect team morale.
But it now looks like the Saudi Arabian Football Federation has come down strongly on Mancini’s side with a series of punishments for those players, along with Mohammed Maran, Khalid Al-Ghannam, and Ali Hazazi.
Goalkeeper Al-Aqidi has been suspended for five months and fined SR300,000 ($80,000) for violations which include a request to postpone the team’s camp; a request for the team’s management to deliver a message in which he stated that he did not want to join the camp; sending a message containing abusive language; and a request to leave the camp because he believed that he was the team’s third-choice goalkeeper.
Sultan Al-Ghannam has been fined SR200,000 for his request for an exemption from joining the team’s camp ahead of the Asian Cup, during a meeting on Dec. 28.
Al-Faraj, who captained Saudi Arabia at the World Cup in Qatar, has been hit with a SR100,000 fine after he refused to join the squad after being summoned to the team camp that was held in October.
The other three players — Maran (Al-Nassr), Khalid Al-Ghannam and Hazazi (both Al-Ettifaq) — have been suspended for a month and each fined SR200,000 following their request to leave the national team’s camp after they were left out of the official Saudi squad for the AFC Asian Cup, despite there still being an opportunity to force their way into the final list if other players were injured.