Crime and Courts

UAE footballer cleared of making abusive tweets against club

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
Filed on October 22, 2018 | Last updated on October 22, 2018 at 07.18 am

(File photo)

The footballer allegedly posted offensive tweets against the club management.

A UAE footballer, who was accused of posting offensive tweets against his former club, has been cleared of the charges.

The Abu Dhabi Misdeamenour Court acquitted the Emirati man of the charges of defamation and violating online laws because there was "no sufficient evidence to convict him".

The court earlier heard that the Abu Dhabi-based club reportedly wanted to fine the footballer millions of dirhams for breaching his contract, including missing training sessions. In response to this, the footballer allegedly posted offensive tweets against the club management.

The management claimed the messages were "offensive, undermining and damaging" to its reputation.

In one of the tweets, according to the club, the footballer allegedly said: "You guys know that the management forging the contract is not the proper way. Ronaldo and Messi are not paying 10 million in fines for missing out on training ... Sorry, but I'm taking it to the police to prove its authenticity."

When prosecutors charged the footballer with defamation and violating online laws, he denied it.
Haaji Al Balushi, the lawyer representing the footballer, argued that his client was innocent and never made any defamatory statements against the club.

At a previous hearing, he asked the court to direct the club to present the original contract the footballer had signed. "If the original contract document is found to be intact, with no changes made to it, then my client will be responsible for defaming the club. But if the document is proved to have been altered, then my client is innocent," said the lawyer.

He added: "My client is a professional footballer playing for a well-known football club. He is also playing for the UAE national team."

The lawyer added that there were some disagreements between the player and the club in implementing some of the terms in the contract - particularly financial entitlements. It was because of this that he missed the training sessions, the lawyer said.

Al Balushi added that his client was later "shocked" when the club presented to him a copy of the contract, saying he had breached its terms. "That contract was not the original one signed by the player and this is the reason the man challenged it. In the forged contract, violating its terms meant that the player ceased to be a member of the club and that he was supposed to pay Dh10 million."

Ismail Sebugwaawo

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