Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Victorious Qatar returns to Doha to a ‘rapturous’ welcome

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) The Asian Football Confederation said Sunday that Qatar’s victorious Asian Cup football team returned home to Doha to a “rapturous welcome” and was greeted by the country’s ruler and hundreds of thousands of fans.

The AFC said Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani met the players to begin a second straight night of celebrations in Doha after Qatar beat Japan 3-1 in the Asian Cup final on Friday.

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“I am very happy to see the people celebrating with us, we realize how big what we did is,” said coach Felix Sanchez. “When you win a trophy like that you feel very proud, to see that the hard work sometimes gives you the reward.”

The AFC statement said players and staff were mobbed by fans, friends and family before getting on a specially decorated open-top bus to begin the trip into Doha from the airport.

“I am proud to make these people happy,” said Ali Almoez, the tournament’s top scorer. “I am proud of this thing and all the players are. For 40 years Qatari people did not celebrate, now we will celebrate for the next four years and not stop.”

Victory will give Qatar renewed hope of being able to compete against the world’s best teams when it qualifies for the first time for the World Cup – as hosts – in 2022.

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FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

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The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.