Emirati headlines refuse to name Qatar in #AsianCup victory reports
Local media in the UAE has refused to even mention Qatar in articles after the tiny peninsula’s smashing victory at the Asian Cup final on Friday.
Qatar won the continental tournament after a remarkable record-breaking run that saw the team concede just one goal.
Qatar beat Japan, who had previously won the continental championship four times, by three goals to one in a tense final.
The game sparked worldwide attention, especially since Qatar had reached the finals of a tournament being held in the UAE - one of four countries that has imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the tiny Gulf state for nearly two years.
Emirati media reflected the political bitterness after Qatar’s victory, focusing only on Japan’s defeat.
Local newspaper al-Bayan initially published a short article without even mentioning Qatar, let alone acknowledging they beat Japan.
After al-Bayan’s article went viral in the Arab world with thousands condemning what was percieved as a "petty" move, the news outlet updated their story with one line mentioning Qatar’s victory.
Both English language Gulf News and Khaleej Times followed suit, only mentioning Japan’s loss in the headline.
“Unlucky Japan loses AFC Asian Cup final”, a Gulf News headline said while Khaleej Times opted for “Unlucky Japan come up short in Asian Cup final”.
The local media reaction came after the UAE downgraded the closing Asian Cup ceremony, which saw no Emirati official present.
Elaborate plans to feature some of the region's biggest stars including Hussein al-Jesmi were also scrapped at the last minute, according to reports.
Had another team won, it is likely that UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed would have personally awarded the top prize in the continent's premier prestige football event.
The UAE previously undertook a number of attempts to end Qatar's run in the tournament - from block-buying 18,000 tickets to the semi-final, ensuring few if any Qatar fans could get a seat, to complaining bitterly about the eligibility of Qatari players after losing to the rival team.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with gas-rich Qatar, accusing it of links to extremist groups.
Qatar has consistently denied the allegations and repeatedly called for dialogue to end the crisis
Gulf states also ordered Qataris to leave within 14 days as well as calling home their own citizens, with the UAE announcing draconian jail terms of 15 years for anyone who expressed sympathy with Qatar.
As a result of the blockade, almost no Qatari fans or media have been allowed in the UAE to support and report on their team's road to the final.