x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Arabic: Language of football passion from commentators

Football is about the passion, the energy and the beauty of the game, and Arab announcers are great at helping viewers at home feel the electrifying atmosphere inside the stadium.

The enjoyment of watching a football match on television is magnified when passionate commentators are calling the game. When a player breaks through to score a goal, the best announcers add to the excitement and really get your adrenalin pumping.

This is one reason why many fans love to watch games with Arabic commentary. Football is about the passion, the energy and the beauty of the game, and Arab announcers are great at helping viewers at home feel the electrifying atmosphere inside the stadium.

Two of the best are Faris Awadh and Amer Abdulla Almari, both Emiratis, who announce Pro League matches on Dubai Sports. Fans follow their work closely and love them for their knowledge of the game and their passionate and inspiring delivery.

Other Emirati commentators, such Eissa Al Harbeen and Ahmed Al Hosani, who announce Pro League games on Abu Dhabi Sports, are pioneers of Arabic football announcing. They have great tactical awareness and like to talk about individual players and team history during the game, and both can be very loud and emotional.

"I honestly would prefer Pro League commentators to announce on the other leagues as well," said Mohammad Al Bastaki, a Emirati from Dubai who follows the Pro League. "To hear to Faris Awadh is bliss and the voice of Amer Abdulla Almari is really awesome.

"You can feel the tendency to cheer for your team because of the energy they bring from their commentary."

The most popular Arab announcer is the Tunisian Essam Al Shawaly, who does games from international leagues for Al Jazeera Sports. His is the voice you hear on the Arab version of the Fifa 2012 video game, which was released with passionate Arabic commentary by EA Sports because of the huge demand from fans.

Al Shawaly has a unique voice and his tone is very authoritative; he earns the respect of the viewers for his knowledge and articulate delivery. He is well known in the region and the fans love him.

Last weekend, the customers at a cafe I was at demanded to have the television switched to a game just because Al Shawaly was commentating on it.

People who have never watched a match with Arabic commentary are missing out.

Arab announcers like to mix in bits of history of the teams and players, and their excitement level is unmatched. If you watch English commentators, their words tend to complement the images; they only talk when something significant is happening in the match.

***

Perhaps the enjoyment of the broadcasts is one reason why Pro League fans seem to prefer watching matches on television over going to the stadiums.

The Asian Football Confederation has urged the Pro League to work harder at getting more fans. Despite all the investments, the league has failed to attract greater numbers, which could cost the UAE a spot in the Asian Champions League.

The criteria for the 2012 Champions League require a minimum average attendance of 5,000 per game, but the Pro League is well short of that. Last year, the average attendance was 2,600; this year, it has increased to 3,200.

Every club should have fans like Al Ain - they are very passionate and create an amazing atmosphere at the stadium, with an average of about 4,000 per game. Pro League clubs definitely have more fans than the average of 3,200 that come to the stadiums. Whether it's because they enjoy the commentary or because weeknight games are tough when fans have work the next morning, many of them prefer to watch from home.

Omar Al Raisi is an Emirati football writer and analyst who lives in Abu Dhabi.

sports@thenational.ae