AFC pressures UAE to have professional league

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the UAE Football Association General Assembly has called for the early introduction of a professional league to maintain the country's status in international football and has appointed FAGA member Hamad Bin Brook to conduct a study on its implemention. Addressing the FAGA extraordinary meeting following UAE's historic first championship in the Arabian Gulf Cup, Shaikh Abdullah warned delegates that "the league which is played now could have been useful 30 years back, but not now ... If we do not turn to a professional league, the Asian Football Confederation will ask us to play in the amateur tournaments."

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Public Works, said that UAE could have just six clubs or more in the professional league and "no club will be forced to turn professional, if some clubs wants to stay amateurs, they can." Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and the Al Ahli club board chairman, said "some first division clubs will form companies in future and the number of foreign players will be increased - in keeping with the Japanese experiment in the league which helped them to develop their standards in a big way," Sayed Alir reported for Gulf News.