The Foreign Office said on Wednesday that it was providing assistance to Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, who had been arrested last month after he went to the UAE police to report an assault on him over cheering Qatari football team.
The UAE embassy in London said Ahmad had been charged for making false statements about being beaten up by local football fans and wasting police time, Presstv reported.
“Police took him to hospital where a doctor who examined him, concluded that his injuries were inconsistent with his account of events and appeared to be self-inflicted,” said an official in the embassy through a statement, adding that Ahmad, whom he described as a dual Sudanese-British citizen, had admitted the offences and will be tried in the UAE courts.
A friend of Ahmad's said the British man had been unaware of the law in the UAE about expressing sympathy for Qatar, a country that has been locked in a diplomatic dispute with the UAE and several other Arab countries since last year.
Amer Lokie told the state-funded BBC that Ahmad was arrested on January 22 after Qatar’s match against Iraq in Abu Dhabi where he had reportedly been assaulted by people outside the stadium for wearing Qatar’s shirt.
“They took away his T-shirt and he went home. Afterwards he went back to police station to report the assault and they held him,” said Lokie, adding, “I don't think he knew he could get into problems for wearing a T-shirt or supporting a particular team.”
The arrest has revived a diplomatic dispute between London and Abu Dhabi about the arrest and conviction late last year of a British academic in the UAE. Mathew Hedges, who had been sentenced to life in prison over espionage charges, but was was released in November under apparent pressure from the British government.
Qatar stunned rival Arab countries in the region by cruising to its first ever Asian Cup championship earlier this month. Qataris had knocked the UAE team 4-0 in the semifinals.