No ambulance, no match

Match officials and captains of Muscat and Fanja pose before the kick-off (Muscat Daily)

The delay in the arrival of a stand-by ambulance at the Muscat Club ground in Wadi Kabir forced the abandonment of the 2015 Mazda Professional Cup quarterfinal match between hosts Muscat and defending champion Fanja on Tuesday evening.

The match was scheduled to kick off at 4.45pm. After a 45-minute wait, Khalid al Mutaqawi, the match commissioner, decided to abandon it with both the teams on the ground.

Ironically, the ambulance, a mandatory requirement for any match to be played in domestic football competitions, arrived soon after the game was called off.

“The referee first waited for 15 minutes and then extended it by a further 30 minutes. Only after delaying the start by 45 minutes did he abandon the match. There was not much of a choice left after waiting for so long,” Saif al Sumri, chairman, Fanja Club, who was at the venue, told Muscat Daily.

It is learnt that the host team which, in this instance, was Muscat, was to tie up with Badr al Samaa Hospitals, a partner of the Oman Football Association (OFA), to arrange for an ambulance to be available at the ground ahead of the kick-off.

Sources said that Muscat Club had contacted the hospital and finalised the arrangement. A club official who tried to contact the concerned hospital officials for the ambulance could not reach them an hour ahead of the match. This may possibly be the first time that a domestic match had to be called off due to delay in arrival of an ambulance. Though there have been instances of ambulance arriving late, the matches went ahead as scheduled.

Saleh al Farsi, vice chairman, OFA, who is also the competitions committee chief, said, “We will look into reports of the match commissioner and take a decision accordingly. The responsibility to arrange an ambulance for a match is of the host team.”

A top OFA official said, “It was the right decision to call off the match. The hospital officials may have missed the schedule. We will now wait for the competitions committee to decide on the match.”

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