Qatar forward Almoez Ali, top-scorer in last year's AFC Asian Cup with a record nine goals, is eligible to play for Arab nation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Monday as it dismissed an appeal by the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE, which hosted the Asian Cup last year, protested after its semifinal defeat that Qatar's Ali and defender Bassam Al-Rawi were ineligible to play for the team because their mothers were not born in Qatar. But the Asian Football Confederation, then its appeal committee, disagreed .
The UAE federation then took its case to the CAS, though it dropped its challenge against Al Rawi because he was suspended during the semifinal.
However, CAS said in a statement that it was satisfied that Ali's mother was born in Qatar, making him eligible to play for them under FIFA rules.
“The CAS panel was comfortably satisfied that the player is a Qatari national who never represented another national association and that he has other ties to his new country Qatar, notably that his biological mother was born in Qatar,” it said.
Ali, who graduated from Qatar's Aspire Academy, is expected to lead Qatar's attack again when the Asian champion hosts the World Cup in 2022, which will also be its debut at the finals.
(With inputs from AP)