DUBAI // Superstar footballer Cristiano Ronaldo's visit to Dubai Mall was cancelled today without explanation, leaving fans angry and disappointed.
The Real Madrid and Portugal goalscorer was due to arrive at the mall at 5pm to meet the 10 winners of a competition and hand them autographed Save the Children T-shirts. But late yesterday the mall announced through its Facebook page that the star would not be coming.
The reason for the cancellation has not been revealed. The last high-profile celebrity visit at the mall, by Kim Kardashian in October, attracted large crowds who went wild when the celebrity TV star appeared.
Ronaldo is visiting Dubai to attend a conference called Globe Soccer. His planned appearance at the mall was confirmed last week by sources at Save the Children and event organiser MICE International. Today, the same sources said the visit was off.
The Dubai Mall's official Twitter feed said the appearance had been planned as part of celebrations to mark the third anniversary of the centre's opening. A tweet to fans said: "We understand ur disappointment on Ronaldo's event cancellation. It was a 3rd party event & there's no confirmation on why it's cancelled."
One of a number of posts on the subject that appeared on the mall's Facebook page said: "Hey fans. We understand your disappointment on Cristiano Ronaldo's event being cancelled however the event was managed by a 3rd party and was not in our control. There is no confirmation recieved [sic] as to why it is cancelled. Thank you for your understanding."
Football fan Shammi Al Marzooqi, a 25-year-old Emirati computer programmer from Al Ain, said she had entered the contest, which involved answering a question about Ronaldo, on the mall's Facebook page.
"I was really disappointed because if they weren't sure they could get him they shouldn't have published it on their website, they should be sure about what they post," she said. "My sister and cousin also entered."
She said the contest was later taken down from Facebook, and added: "I'm a big Ronaldo fan, I've been watching him ever since he was with Manchester United."
The player is due to visit a special needs centre tomorrow. In the evening, he will help to present an auction in aid of Save the Children at the Dh5,000-a-ticket Audi Football Night gala dinner at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa.
The gala is part of the programme for the two-day Globe Soccer event, which starts today. Others taking part include Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero and England manager Fabio Capello.