Seeb Club, players banned for attack on umpire during hockey match

Last Thursday could go down as the most topsy-turvy day in the recent history of Oman hockey. The day began with the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) proudly hosting the first-ever Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Congress in Muscat. And it ended as a night of shame - with players from Seeb, Oman’s premier hockey club, assaulting the umpire at a showpiece match in Bausher in the presence of some of Asia’s top hockey officials.

The occasion was the inaugural Super Cup, a one-off match pitting Oman’s top two clubs, Al Nasr and Seeb. It was organised at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) to showcase Oman’s hockey potential in front of the representatives from 33 Asian nations, who attended the AHF Congress earlier in the day.

The brawl forced the game to be called off two minutes from time as Seeb refused to complete the match in protest.

Saleh al Balushi, the assaulted umpire, returned with his face bloodied and his shirt torn; he had to be rescued by cops.

AHF president Prince Abdullah Ahmed Shah, the chief guest who was supposed to present the winner’s trophy, left the venue along with other top officials without handing over the prizes.

Al Nasr was crowned champion at a subdued prize distribution event that was boycotted by the Seeb players.

Speaking to Muscat Daily , a senior Oman Hockey Association (OHA) official, who witnessed the on-field brawl, said, “The attack left the umpire with a torn shirt and a bloodied face. He had to be rescued by security officials.”

Seeb Club was on Saturday banned by OHA for a full season. Ibrahim al Hasani, Seeb’s reserve goalkeeper who had led the assault on the umpire, has been banned for three years and the team’s coach Khalid al Raisi got a two-year ban.

Three other Seeb players - Mohammed al Lawati, Al Mutassim al Raisi and Mohammed al Hasani - will serve three-month bans.

The OHA functionary recalled that the incident took place shortly after Balushi turned down Seeb’s plea for a penalty stroke, with domestic league champion Al Nasr leading 1-0. A resultant counter-attack then saw Al Nasr score another goal.

“That was the trigger,” recounted the OHA official. “Seeb’s reserve players launched a shameful assault on the umpire. Ibrahim led the charge.

“Accompanied by his teammates, the reserve goalkeeper barged onto the pitch and manhandled Balushi. The umpire was rescued by security personnel, who escorted him to the technical area.”

After the assault, the Seeb players refused to take to the field to complete the match and Al Nasr was declared winner after a mandatory wait by the umpires.

A dejected Balushi, an experienced international umpire, told Muscat Daily , “The incident is a shame. A police complaint has been lodged. I will wait and see how it progresses.”

Mohammed al Amri, the OHA vice chairman, presented the trophy to the Al Nasr team.

OHA chairman Talib al Wahaibi, who announced the sanctions on Saturday, later told Muscat Daily , “Seeb has been banned for a season as per the OHA’s clause No 27/54. Their coach Khalid al Raisi has been handed a two-year ban. A repeat offence from him will invite a life ban.”

Wahaibi thanked Seeb manager Abdurrehman al Raisi for trying to persuade his players to complete the match.

The history of Oman hockey is replete with instances of unruly behaviour from players and fans marring matches.

Even international events haven’t been spared, with incidents rocking Oman’s campaign at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

In Doha, Oman’s Hossam Hassan was banned for assaulting a rival player with a stick during a match against Bangladesh.

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