The UAE’s sports federation will implement The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s decree last November to permit players born to Emirati women married to foreigners and expatriates to join local clubs and represent the national teams in various sports.
The registration process will begin from now onwards after the Federal National Council approved the regulations and conditions drafted by the UAE General Sports Authority on Monday.
“All the UAE sports federations will implement the cabinet-approved regulations from September,” said Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithy, chairman of the General Authority for Sports (GAS), at a press conference at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council on Tuesday.
“Under the patronage and leadership of the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, we are honoured to announce the resolution for the participation of categories of players.
“The resolution marks a milestone in the UAE sports history as it will encourage more athletes to participate in different sports.”
The UAE Football Federation alongside basketball, volleyball and handball federations have been classified in first group federations.
In football, players born to UAE women with expat husbands, players holding UAE passports, players born in the UAE and players residing in the UAE can take part in all competitions in age groups: male/female (4-8 years), male/female (8-12 years), male/female (12-18 years).
However, in case of male/female (18-21 years and above), the team can only register three players born in the UAE and three players residing in the UAE.
A total of six players can be registered in the 30-player squad in each team. It’s the same format with basketball, volleyball and handball but here in the case of male/female (18-21 years and above), the team can only register 10 players born in the UAE and 10 players residing in the UAE.
The GAS has requested the federations to come up with their own guidelines as per the international federations guidelines on the eligibility of the players in each sport.
“There is no cap on individual sports federations and players from as all age groups can participate and be included in the teams,” added Ibrahim Abdulmalik, general secretary of GAS.
“The international federations for disabled sports and expat-driven sports like rugby, hockey and ice hockey have different rules and regulations where expatriates who have resided in the country for a certain period of time are eligible to represent the country.
“Some are different as in football where the UAE passport is required in which case the final approval will be made according to guidelines set by the government.”
Aref Hamad Al Awani, member of the GAS board and general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, welcomed the move as a positive and a giant step forward to allow expatriates to compete for a place in the teams.
“This initiative has come from the country’s leadership and we feel proud that finally those who have born or lived in the UAE are provided with the opportunity to represent the national teams,” he said.
“There are many benefits from this move as it will allow the expatriates to have a role as in their participation in the same way as we do in other aspects such as economy and development.
“It also means more competition for the Emirati players and a bigger pool of players for the federations to select from. The expatriate participation will encourage more spectators in our stadiums.
“We thank the team who has worked to get this resolution going before the 2019 season gets under way.”