x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Brazil may play in Abu Dhabi next week

The Football Association confirms it has received an approach for Abu Dhabi to host a friendly between Brazil and Iran.

ABU DHABI // The Football Association (FA) yesterday confirmed it has received an approach for Abu Dhabi to host a mouth-watering friendly between Brazil, the five-time world champions, and Iran on October 7. 

"We've only just received the request, it's not clear yet and we have not given approval," Yousef Mohammed Abdullah, the general secretary of the FA, said. 

"We hope that [by today] we'll know more and can proceed. We have no details at the moment and we don't know who the organisers are - maybe it's the [Brazilian and Iranian] federations, maybe it's a marketing company."

Officials from the Iranian Football Federation (IFF) appear to be the principal orchestrators. Ali Kafashian, the IFF chairman, is certain the game will go-ahead. 

"Iran will play a friendly game against Brazil, featuring all its stars, in Abu Dhabi on October 7," the ISNA news agency quoted Kafashian as saying. Kafashian offered no contractual details, but revealed an agreement to hold the match in Abu Dhabi had been reached with his Brazilian counterparts on Sunday. The FA, however, is in the dark.

"Before we can arrange anything we need to know what kind of assistance the teams would need from the FA and Abu Dhabi Sports Council," Abdullah added. "There are questions over stadium, match officials, security, everything. This is procedure; until things are agreed we do not know what will happen." 

The Brazilian federation routinely charges appearance fees upwards of US$2.5 million (Dhs9.13m) per match, but it is understood the FA will not shoulder any financial burden if it decides to host the friendly.

"The Brazilian team's sponsor is paying all the expenses," said Abbas Torabian, an IFF official. Further benefits for the Emirates and its football fans could include the selection of local match officials, Abdullah added. 

"We hope the match takes place and we would want to take part in any way we can, maybe with a UAE referee," he said. If the Abu Dhabi clash is given the go-ahead, it will likely be held at Zayed Sports City - where Brazil defeated the UAE 8-0 in November, 2005 - and leave Brazil's mainly European-based squad facing two trips to the Gulf in five-weeks.

The South Americans, who beat England 1-0 in Qatar last November, have already confirmed they will return to Doha to face continental rivals Argentina on November 17. 

Kafashian insists that Brazil will bring "all its stars" to Abu Dhabi. Four days after the proposed game in the capital Brazil will play a friendly against Ukraine in England. 

The Brazilian football federation said the match will take place on October 11 at the 33,700-capacity Pride Park Stadium in Derby, the central English city with the most Ukrainian immigrants.

Brazil has never played against either the Ukraine or Iran. 

emegson@thenational.ae