x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Football's Club World Cup kicks off with bus ride for trophy

The Fifa Club World Cup trophy started a bus tour of the UAE yesterday in Dubai. Its journey will end at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.

The Fifa Club World Cup trophy started a bus tour of the UAE yesterday in Dubai. Its journey will end at Zayed Sports City in the capital, where two champion football clubs will contest the final on December 19 for the right to hoist it. The trophy, lifted last year by Manchester United in Yokohama, Japan, was on display at Maktoum Stadium, where the football teams Al Shabab from Dubai and Emirate from Ras al Khaimah clashed in a UAE Pro League match, won by the Dubai side.

It will travel by bus to locations including Sharjah and Al Ain to coincide with other sporting events, such as the Rugby Sevens in December. The tour is part of the campaign to promote the Club World Cup, which begins on December 9 and involves six continental club champions, including the European giants Barcelona and the UAE Pro League champions Al Ahli. Fans will be treated to eight matches during the 11-day tournament.

The final two teams - Pohang Steelers of South Korea and Tout Puissant Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo - secured their spots in the tournament on Saturday, winning their respective Champions League competitions. With the draw for the event scheduled for Thursday, organisers are hoping the UAE's fans will throw their support behind it. "With the inaugural F1 Grand Prix now setting the standard, the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2009 is fast approaching and it's time to rally the whole nation in support of this prestigious tournament," Mohammed al Mahmood, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said in a statement.

Fans can board the bus to learn about the tournament and have their photo taken with the trophy. There will also be football activities such as a goal-saving competition. Meanwhile, at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, an activity booth has been seeing fierce competition since it opened on Saturday, staff said. Participants who strike a football above a certain speed - 100 kph for men over 25, for instance - can win a prize, such as a mini football.

"People were really competitive," said Tiffany Semanski, 19, who is working at the stand, where people can buy tickets for the Club World Cup. "We had the same kids at least 10 times. It was so crowded and everyone was participating. We had a lot of people asking what teams were coming." mchung@thenational.ae