Qatar player banned for social media post in recent World Cup


DOHA—Qatar defender Abdelkarim Hassan was handed an indefinite suspension by the country’s soccer federation on Thursday reportedly following an altercation with a fan over social media.

Qatari media reported that Hassan responded to a complaint on SnapChat about Qatar losing a game during the World Cup the emirate hosted late last year by posting, “Relax, do you think it’s war?”

Hassan was also deducted 50 percent of his salary, fined 200,000 Qatari riyals ($55,000) and issued a warning by the Qatar Football Association.

In other punishments handed down on Thursday, two more national team players—Bassam al-Rawi and Mohamed Waad—were fined 100,000 and 50,000 Qatari riyals, respectively, while both had their salaries deducted by 50 percent.

No reasons were disclosed for those sanctions, which were announced by the federation through its Twitter account based on the report submitted by the department of national teams to the general secretary, the Qatar News Agency said.

Qatar lost to Iraq, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Gulf Cup in Basra City on Monday.

Mexico, meanwhile, was ordered to forfeit a pair of friendlies and fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,900) by FIFA for using American forward Alejandro Zendejas.

FIFA said Mexico also was ordered to forfeit three under-23 matches in which it used Zendejas.

The governing body did not announce the penalty until Thursday, a day after it was contacted by The Associated Press following the US Soccer Federation selecting Zendejas for next week’s games against Serbia and Colombia, the first for the Americans since the World Cup.

The 24-year-old forward started three matches for the United States at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup, where he was a teammate of Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams.

“FIFA can confirm that it has imposed a fine of CHF 10,000 on the Mexican Football Association for breaches of article 5 of the Regulations Governing the Application [RGAS] of the FIFA Statutes following the fielding of the player Alejandro Zendejas,” the governing body said in a statement.

“Besides the fine, all matches have been declared forfeited. Based on the applicable provisions of the RGAS, the player remains however eligible to play for the representative teams of the USA.”

Under FIFA’s statutes, because Zendejas played in an official competition for a US youth national team, he would have had to apply to FIFA for a one-time switch in affiliation in order to appear for a Mexican national team.

Among the forfeits, FIFA listed a match against Ecuador on October 28, 2021, at Charlotte, North Carolina, which Mexico lost 3-2 as Zendejas entered for Uriel Antuna in the 66th minute; and a game against Guatemala last April 22 at Orlando, Florida, which ended in a 0-0 draw as Zendejas started and played until the 72nd minute.

Mexico also was ordered to forfeit under-23 matches against Romania (a 1-0 win on June 5, 2021), against Saudi Arabia (a 1-1 draw that June 8) and against Australia (a 3-2 win that June 12).

All the forfeits become 3-0 defeats. The change in the senior national team matches will have a small impact on Mexico’s FIFA ranking.

Zendejas was in the youth academy of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas, which listed him having been born in El Paso, Texas. He made his MLS debut against Houston on May 1, 2015, and transferred to Mexico’s Chivas in June 2016, then was loaned to Zacatepec in June 2017. Zendejas transferred to Necaxa in June 2020 and to Club America in January 2022.

Zendejas was among 24 players selected Wednesday by US interim coach Anthony Hudson for matches against Serbia on Jan. 25 at Los Angeles and Colombia three days later at Carson, California. He is among 13 players on the roster who could make US national team debuts.

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