x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Jazira tempt fans with Dh1m prize

Football fans have a chance to win up to one million dirhams this weekend, but to find out how you will have to attend the Al Wasl match.

Members of the Al Jazira football club  promoting the largest cash give away in UAE sporting history.
Members of the Al Jazira football club promoting the largest cash give away in UAE sporting history.

ABU DHABI // Football fans have a chance to win up to one million dirhams this weekend.

Al Jazira Football Club will be giving away the cash during their match against Al Wasl on Friday.

Five fans watching the match at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, which starts at 8pm, will be picked at random to compete in a football skill challenge.

Steve Hall, the club's commercial director, said: "All details will be revealed on the night. People have to be here to be in with a chance to win what is essentially a life changing experience.

"People will have to attend the game to find out the actual challenge and how we will select the supporters."

Mohammed al Raduam, a lifelong fan of Al Jazira, said the prize was a great incentive to get fans into the stadium. The 27-year-old Emirati, who works in PR and is also the fan's website administrator, said the game was more enjoyable live.

"People talk about the games and get their information from the newspapers. They don't get the atmosphere or the excitement of a live game. Something like this will get people into the stadiums and even add to the atmosphere," he said.

It is not the first time Al Jazira has used cash prizes to attract supporters. The club gave five fans a chance to share a prize of Dh25,000 at their match against Al Wahda in August. They had to kick a ball from the halfway line and score a goal. Those who scored were to share the prize.

Nobody scored so the prize doubled for the following home match against Baniyas. Ian Pugh, a 27-year-old schoolteacher was one of two fans who managed to score in the empty goal on the night.

He said the prize was a great incentive for fans to attend matches.

"Usually at half time, fans go and get a drink to cool down but at these games everybody goes crazy at half time for the cash prizes."

Mr Hall said that complimentary tickets would be available from the club and other outlets across the capital today.

"We've got a huge campaign for distributing tickets across Abu Dhabi," said Mr Hall. "So far we have an average attendance of 10,000 fans. We anticipate this as our highest attended game for Al Jazira. We are going to aim for 15,000 supporters on the night."

He added that there would be "only one opportunity to win this amount".

"The whole idea is to incentivise people to come to the stadium. From the very start this year, Al Jazira has been focusing on creating a match day experience as something special and one that supporters remember.

"This is a million dirhams. It has to be something special. We want to encourage people to come to the stadium and participate in the biggest cash football prize in UAE history."

There is more at stake on Friday than Dh1 million. Al Wasl are one point ahead of Al Jazira in the Pro League.

Mr Pugh went to Al Jazira's first game of the season and has been going ever since. "We got complimentary season tickets and it was a great opportunity to see the UAE's premier players. The game ended scoreless and wasn't that good. But we went back again and the standard has increased a lot. We went to another game where they won 4-1 and they even managed to score from 30 yards out," he added.

eharnan@thenational.ae