Argentine fans urged to respect Abu Dhabi law

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's government warned fans of Estudiantes de la Plata attending the FIFA Club World Cup 2009 in Abu Dhabi later this week that if they use insults or drink they could face stiff penalties under Emirates law.

In a statement, the Foreign Relations Ministry also asked fans of South America's latest club champion to keep their shirts on in the stadium and to stay in the stands.

Argentine fans typically go shirtless during matches and team songs can be intensely vulgar. Racial insults are common. Local matches are also plagued with fights and violence often blamed on organised fans known as "barras bravas."

"Rude gestures and shouts of a racial, religious, sexual or other nature can lead to complaints to the police and even to court cases, even if they were in Spanish," the statement said.

The Argentine government also reminded Estudiantes fans that they cannot rush out on to the field, which is a traditional way of celebrating a championship in Argentina.

The Emirates' "zero tolerance" drug policy will force Estudiantes fans to be mindful even when they carry yerba mate, a herbal tea that is the country's national drink.

"There are arrests over minimal quantities, milligrams even, that result in long judicial cases, prison and deportation," the government statement said.

The Club World Cup that begins on Wednesday pits against each other six champions from different continents and an Emirates team representing the host nation.