Dubai makes waves on the beach soccer scene
DUBAI // The president of Beach Soccer Worldwide on Thursday described Dubai as the "second home" of the sport.
Joan Cusco, who is also a member of the Fifa board, stressed the importance of the emirate after signing a deal that will see Dubai host the next five Intercontinental Cup competitions.
"If you talk about beach soccer in the world and you ask people to name one city, they will say Rio de Janeiro," Cusco said. "But now more and more people are getting to know Dubai. If you ask which is the second most important city in this sport, people say Dubai.
"If you talk to the players and ask which tournament you would like to play, they will say Dubai. If you talk to the teams and ask where you want to play, they say Dubai. So Dubai has become the second home of the sport.
"We have a world champion [Humaid Jamal] here and this is another measure of success."
Dubai has been hosting beach soccer events since 2006, including the 2009 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup, and now Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the chairman of Dubai Sports Council, has ordered the construction of a complex for beach sports, with a seating capacity of 5,000 to 7,000.
The UAE also held their first beach soccer league earlier this year, which saw international stars such Madjer and Rui Combra, from Portugal, Stephan Meier, from Switzerland and Hussain Ahmed turn out for the eventual champions Al Ahli.
Last month, Jamal, the UAE national team goalkeeper, helped the Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow beat Flamengo to win the Mundialito de Clubes, the sport's Club World Cup, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Dubai caught the eye of the beach soccer world after hosting the 2009 World Cup, which Cusco described as the best ever. The city hosted the first ever Intercontinental Cup last year and the annual tournament will now stay here until 2017 following yesterday's signing of a formal agreement between Dubai Sports Council and Fifa's beach soccer committee.
"We take pride in the fact that Dubai's name will be linked for the following five years with this important tournament and that our audience will get the chance of seeing international teams competing for the cup, including our national team, which we are seeking to improve in order to be among the best international teams," said Matar Al Tayer, the deputy chairman of Dubai Sports Council.
Cusco, said the Intercontinental Cup was the perfect event for Dubai after the successful World Cup, and added: "In 2010, we did not have any event because after the World Cup, we had kind of a hangover. You can't go back and you have to think what is next. So we thought about it and in 2011 we created the Intercontinental Cup, which has proven to be a great idea and event.
"It brings the champions of all the confederations together and they play for the best possible trophy after the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup."
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Updated: June 7, 2012 04:00 AM