Birmingham & Black Country

Qatar football shirt row Briton 'leaves UAE custody'

Qatar v Iraq in Asian Cup on 22 January 2019 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Ahmad is said to have been arrested after watching Qatar play Iraq

A British man who was detained in the United Arab Emirates after reportedly being assaulted when he wore a Qatar football team shirt to a match has "left custody", the BBC understands.

Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, from Wolverhampton, is said to have been unaware of a law against "showing sympathy" for Qatar.

He has been released from custody and has since "departed from UAE", it is understood.

He was held by police after reporting the attack, his friend said.

Previously, the UAE embassy in London said Mr Ahmad had been charged with wasting police time and making false statements.

It previously said he was "categorically not arrested for wearing a Qatar football shirt".

Mr Ahmad, who is said to be a dual Sudanese-British citizen, is understood to have travelled to the UAE for a holiday and the Foreign Office said it had been assisting a British man arrested in the UAE and was in touch with the local authorities.

Mr Ahmad was arrested after watching Qatar play Iraq in an Asian Cup match in Abu Dhabi on 22 January.

His friend Amer Lokie said Mr Ahmad told him he had been assaulted after leaving the stadium and when he later reported the attack to police, Mr Ahmad was subsequently held.

The UAE and four other countries in the region are currently engaged in a political and diplomatic stand-off with Qatar, which they have accused of supporting radical and Islamist groups.

On its website, the Foreign Office warns travellers to the UAE of a June 2017 announcement "that showing sympathy for Qatar on social media or by any other means of communication is an offence".

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