Qatari soccer team plays in UAE amid Gulf diplomatic rift

Published 8:50 p.m. ET Feb. 11, 2018 | Updated 10:22 a.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018

The eight-month long boycott of Qatar by regional neighbors has been broken by a soccer team.

Al Gharafa of Qatar was opening its Asian Champions League campaign on Monday in Abu Dhabi against Al Jazira, the champions of the United Arab Emirates.

Rather than taking a short direct flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi, Al Gharafa was forced to go via Oman on Sunday due to the diplomatic dispute in the Gulf.

Since June, the UAE along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have severed all ties — including travel — with Qatar after accusing the country of supporting terrorism.

Al Gharafa manager Bulent Uygun wanted to keep his team focused on soccer rather than thinking about the political turmoil.

“We will be playing a strong Al Jazira team on their home ground but for us it is like any other match,” Ugyen said. “We are not looking at it as though it is something out of the ordinary.”

The group stage of Asia’s leading club competition will feature 12 meetings between teams from Qatar and those from UAE and Saudi Arabia.

UAE requests to play those games in a third country were rejected by the Asian…

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