UAE football fans caught making racist comments or engaging in offensive behaviour in the stands at matches could face up to three years in jail and fines of up to AED30,000 ($8,167) according to a new law currently awaiting final approval.
The draft bill was passed by the Federal National Council on Tuesday and has already been passed by the UAE cabinet. It is now awaiting the final green light by UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in order to be signed into law.
In a bid to crackdown on hooliganism at games, special police units began patrolling football matches in 2004. Those convicted are currently prosecuted under the UAE Penal Code, but the new law directly addresses the issue of racist behaviour and outlines a range of possible fines and jail sentences judges can impose.
The wide-ranging bill looks at a number of sports-related issues. Organisers who hold sports events without proper permits will also now face prison terms, fines of between AED500,000 and AED1m and bans of up to two years under the new bill.