The Mayor takes charge
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Whenever you hear the word ‘The Mayor’, what usually springs to mind is a prominent dignitary or someone in a position of authority. However, 'The Mayor' of Emirati football is in fact a man whose characteristic style of support has in recent years turned him into the best-known fan in the United Arab Emirates.

Mohammed Rashed attends every UAE national team match, while at club level his sympathies lie with Al Ain. Renowned for his sense of sporting fair play, this was never more apparent than at the opening game of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009, when he supported his club team’s fiercest rivals Al Ahli against OFC champions Auckland City.

‘The Mayor’, who usually attends games attired in a United Arab Emirates national team jersey, and wearing either an Al Ain or UAE Scarf, gave the real reasoning behind his decision to support the Dubai-based domestic champions. “Al Ahli are representing the UAE. Therefore it’s my national duty to support them," he said.

Al Ahli are representing the UAE. Therefore it’s my national duty to support them. We must stand together.
Al Ain fan Mohammed Rashed on why he supported arch-rivals Al Ahli at UAE 2009

“Any club that’s representing the UAE must have the support of the public, especially if they are playing in an international tournament. We must stand together whether supporting our national team or one of our local clubs. Our presence gives them a massive boost.”

When asked about his unusual nickname, Rashed had this to say: “I got the name in the early '90s when I was watching a game with some friends. I was pretty outspoken and one of my mates called me 'The Mayor' - the name has stuck ever since.”

However, he is not just a well-known face in the Emirates, his fame having spread throughout neighbouring countries. “I’m famous because of the way I support my team and also because I took part in one of those television shows which holds supporter competitions between different sets of fans.”

‘The Mayor’ then went on to outline his own trademark style of backing his side: “I use a megaphone so that my voice carries to all the fans, I also use some local songs and poems that I’ve written as well as some poetry in other dialects. Some of the players have even contacted me to request a song, saying that it will give them a great lift during the game"

And Rashed believes that the fact the UAE is hosting the FIFA Club World Cup, both this year and next, will have a positive impact on Emirati football as well as raising the country's profile as a top-class competition host.

“The organisation of the Club World Cup is second to none both inside and outside of the stadiums. It’s world-class organisation on the UAE stage. It’s a great honour for us to be entrusted to host the Club World Cup and people here are enthusiastic about the idea of holding similar tournaments.”

After Al Ahli’s defeat in their play-off for the quarter-finals against Auckland and subsequent early departure from the competition, Rashed has stated his intention to support Barcelona, even though he usually follows their main rivals Real Madrid. “Personally, I love Real Madrid but I have to support Barcelona here. They have some brilliant players, they're currently playing very well and I can’t pass up the chance to watch them,” he concluded.