Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Sami Al-Jaber, coach of top Saudi Arabian football club Al-Hilal has said he was touched by the appearance of Prince Bandar bin Mohamed, chairman of the Board of Honorary Members of the club, to respond to recent controversy caused by a television interview.
Al-Jaber said: “The appearance of Prince Bandar, despite his illness, proves that he will not allow a misunderstanding to be exploited and divide Al-Hilal,” adding “the prince was fair to me when he said I did not raise any new issues and I appreciated it when he confirmed that the controversial points were parts of a previous interview.”
On Sunday, Prince Bandar bin Mohamed appeared on the Saudi Sports Channel to discuss a recent incident between the team coach and former chairman Prince Mohamed bin Faisal, after Al-Jaber talked about having some dues owed to him relating to his presidential term. Prince Mohamed bin Faisal said Al-Jaber had nothing owed to him because he retired and did not see out the last three years of his contract. He added that Al-Jaber had disrupted the professional career Yaser Al-Qahtani, a star player on the team who was linked with top English club Manchester City, after he won the award for best player in Asia in 2007.
Prince Bandar said what happened was a matter of old issues and mere differences in opinion, which is natural, but friendship and warmth remained in the hearts of all Al-Hilal supporters.
Al-Jaber said on Twitter: “During the program I spoke spontaneously without any pretense. I did not compliment anyone and I did not insult any Al-Hilal supporters. I am confident of that. Regarding Prince Mohamed bin Faisal, two points were raised, which were the dues owed to me, which is an old story. I did not speak about it, but I was shown footage from an old clip and I said there was nothing new on the matter.” He added: “I praised Prince Mohamed and said he should be credited with choosing the right time to leave, which is a fact. Everyone at Al-Hilal come to serve the club and if they feel they are unable to give what is required to maintain the club at the top, they leave and make way for someone else. This is a positive point, not a criticism.”
Al-Jaber apologized to every Al-Hilal supporter who may have been angered by the issues which were raised recently and said: “I can guarantee that I did not cross any lines in my interview and maybe the stance of the crowds who supported me, as expected, is clear evidence that the issue was raised by people who are against Al-Hilal, and who are annoyed at the stability of the Blues.”
He added: “What is positive for the Blues in these situations is they confirm that the Blues’ supporters (clever, aware and devoted) are the strongest in Saudi sport. The Blues’ supporters only understand dominance, winning and trophies and they do not follow slogans and lies. The Blues’ supporters are the secret of the club’s leadership.”
Al-Jaber added: “What was positive in these situations was that they show the personalities of the names and put each person in the category they deserve. What is also positive is that you can see the level of your success by the level of annoyance which some crowds and journalists, and some honorable members of other clubs, feel.”
Al-Jaber also said: “Another positive from these situations is they prove the club–behind which strong supporters, armed with awareness and wisdom stand–cannot be breached easily.”
Al-Hilal Club’s honorable member and former chairman Prince Mohamed bin Faisal had written on his Twitter account following Prince Bandar bin Mohamed’s comments on Saudi Sport Channel that: “My father Prince Bandar bin Mohamed is wise and I pray for his health to improve and for his return home in good health, and as he said, we may disagree, but we will always agree to love Al-Hilal.”
Meanwhile, current chairman of Al-Hilal, Prince Abdel-Rahman bin Msa’ed refused to comment on the controversy and thanked Prince Bandar following his interview on Sunday.