x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emirates may bid for cup again

The UAE FA president says the country will be keen on future stagings of the Club bonanza, but subject to the success of its first two hostings.

The UAE FA president Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi is keen on the country staging the Club World Cup again if Abu Dhabi's two years as hosts is successful..
The UAE FA president Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi is keen on the country staging the Club World Cup again if Abu Dhabi's two years as hosts is successful..

The UAE will bid for future stagings of the Club World Cup, according to FA president Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, but a positive outcome will be largely dependent on the smooth running and success of its first two hostings. "Our priority is to make the Club World Cup a success in order to go for a future hosting," said al Rumaithi. "We've proved we can deliver on paper and Fifa were impressed enough to grant us the tournament, now we need to make sure the competition is successful."

The Club World Cup is set to return to Japan, its home since 2004, for two years from 2011. But al Rumaithi said the UAE may bid to win the tournament back in years to come. "Fifa is looking to spread football and of course I would want to host the Club World Cup for five years [from 2013], but it depends on how much we deliver," said al Rumaithi. "We wanted three years, Fifa gave us two and we understand. If we don't do well and hit the standards expected then we won't be able to host it for longer anyway.

"We are focused and I'm sure Fifa will evaluate this event and previous events and take everything into consideration. Provided we are successful then we will have the courage to ask for it again." One of the factors which will determine any potential bid's success is the capital's ability to lure crowds; only 14,856 seats at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium were filled for the competition's opening match on Wednesday evening. Al Rumaithi, however, believes attendances will grow as the tournament progresses.

"Of course, we desire more crowds," he said. "Fans are the number one factor in any tournament's success. But historically, regardless of which teams play the first few matches, they are not as inviting as the semi-finals and final. "Even in Japan the stadiums were not full before the semis and final. And let's be frank, everybody is waiting for the big teams and we expect more and more spectators for the latter stages. We want good numbers to fill stadiums and there are lots of excuses, but we are not far away from the numbers we want. Fifa knows the reality. "It's a challenge for everybody. It is up to the government, organisers, locals and expats to make it a success. But I think more fans will turn up for the quarters," added the FA president.

Meanwhile, Fifa general secreatary Jerome Valcke, who is in Abu Dhabi to oversee the Club World Cup, believes the UAE is in a select group of countries which have the capacity to host the tournament. "If you think about the number of countries who are able to organise such a tournament, there are not so many in the world," said Valcke. "We receive potential hosts' proposals and this time, the best one came from the UAE - that's why we are here.

"It's not just because we love them. It's because it was the best proposal, the best project." Valcke, who went so far as to categorically rule Europe out as a short-term Club World Cup venue because of fears over the competition's impact in an already saturated football market, insisted the UAE was in the driving seat if it decided to bid for the competition again. "The Club World Cup cannot, like the World Cup, be organised everywhere," said Valcke. "And it would not have the same impact in Europe, where lots of world-class football is played already. It is a big cost event and by bringing it to the UAE we have had to make sure we are adding something to its value. We have reached this goal."

Valcke did, however, have a word of warning regarding attendances. "We have to make sure there is an interest for the whole tournament, not just for the home team. We want to make sure we are not creating a tournament where you are just following your team. The interest needs to be created in all the other matches." @Email:emegson@thenational.ae