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UAE league chief arrested in cross-code war

United Arab Emirates Rugby League President Sol Mokdad has been arrested in the latest efforts by UAE Rugby to kill off their rival code.

Mokdad, who has held the presidency of the UAE Rugby League commission for eight years, was apprehended by police on Wednesday on behalf of the General Authority of Youth Welfare and Sport – the governing body for sport in the UAE.

The arrest has been made after an ill-informed complaint from UAE Rugby concerning the use of the word ‘rugby’.

UAE Rugby have released a statement claiming that Mokdad has been “illegally claiming the Title of President”, despite the fact that he is the UAE Rugby League President.

The UAE government now view the UAE Rugby League as an illegal organisation, despite the fact that it is fully sanctioned by the Rugby League International Federation.

It is rumoured that the charges laid are for fraud, claiming that Rugby League has pretended to be Rugby Union and deceitfully accepted sponsorship money.

World Rugby have addressed the situation, confirming that Rugby League is indeed a different sport, however UAE Rugby and the powers that be in the region have failed to take notice – possibly fearing the surge in popularity that Rugby League has enjoyed in the region.

Rugby league journalist Steve Mascord revealed the story after uncovering the following statement which was provided to players from the Dubai Sharks club.

“The League/Commission’s President was arrested on Wednesday night as a result of a police case taken out against him by the General Authority of Youth Welfare and Sport. We have suggested to the remaining committee members of the league to suspend the remaining fixtures of the League season until such time that it becomes clear as to the outcome of the arrest of the Commissions President. What is clear is that the League/Commission as an organisation is now viewed by the Governing Bodies of the United Arab Emirates as an illegal organisation.

Unfortunately the Commission have not, at this stage agreed to that suggestion, therefore, as Chairman of the Dubai Sharks RFC I believe that as a club we should not participate in the league in its current guise, which places the club or any of its member’s in conflict with any of the Governing Bodies of the United Arab Emirates. As a club we want to participate in Rugby League football, however we want to do it as part of an approved and legal organisation.

We will await the league/Commission’s response to our suggestion to suspend the league and the postponement of today’s game and how they will look to continue to play out the remaining fixtures of the league season.”

The competition has since been suspended following the release of the statement.

It is not the first time that such issues have reared their head, currently being dealt with in Russia, Italy and South Africa, and dating back as far as World War II in France when the pro-Nazi regime outlawed Rugby League in favour of Rugby Union.

It is understood that the RLIF, ARLC (Australian Rugby League Commission) and RFL (Rugby Football League – the game’s governing body in England) are working to resolve the issue.


If you’re rival is still trying to shut you down after 120 years, you must be on to something pretty good. This, quite frankly, is one of the most disgusting acts in sport. UAE Rugby, and more importantly the UAE Government, have got it so horribly wrong. To put a man in gaol for this is ridiculous. Rugby Union and Rugby League are different sports. They have been for 120 years. A quick google search will tell you that. While we’re at it, why don’t FIFA claim ownership of the NFL and American Football as a whole? Oh, that’s right, they’re different sports. And to claim to be the governing body of a different sport is quite possibly one of the stupidest things an organisation could do.

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