x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gulf Cup: Tournament must be reorganised to get Fifa approval, warns Blatter

The Fifa president praised the UAE's performance in their opening Gulf Cup match against Qatar - but warned the competition needed better organisation if it is to become an official event.

The UAE's Mohammed Ahmed celebrates with teammates after scoring the third goal in their opening Gulf Cup of Nations match.
The UAE's Mohammed Ahmed celebrates with teammates after scoring the third goal in their opening Gulf Cup of Nations match.

DUBAI // If the biennial Gulf Cup has any long-term plan to become an official Fifa event, it must be more rigidly organised and work in cooperation with the African Cup of Nations, said Sepp Blatter, president of football's world governing body.

The region's most prestigious international football tournament kicked off in Bahrain on Saturday night with a scoreless draw between the hosts and Oman, which Blatter attended.

And while the 76 year old had nothing but praise for the Fifa-affiliated event, it does not yet have a position on the governing body's international calendar.

That could change, according to Blatter, if the tournament organisers can "find a formula to play the cup always at the same time when the African Cup of Nations is played."

Such an arrangement would remove the need to create a new date on the calendar, however any proposal to be recognised as the Fifa Gulf Cup would also need to be formally requested and studied by the governing body, he added.

Blatter, who delivered a keynote speech at yesterday's awards show, said he had thoroughly enjoyed the Gulf Cup's opening ceremony, but was less impressed by the football on display in the opening game.

"The opening ceremony was very nice: 9.5 out of 10 because perfection does not exist," he said.

"As always though, the opening match was a bit boring because neither team wants to lose. Fortunately, in the other match, one team did want to win and the UAE did just that."

The Emirates beat Qatar 3-1 on Saturday night, bringing joy to a country's supporters who believe they have a national team capable of becoming champions of the Gulf for the first time since 2007

Blatter, who met with Yousef Al Serkal, the UAE FA president, yesterday morning, said he expects the Emirates' investment in youth development to reap dividends in the future.

"I know the UAE has now made a lot of effort on different levels," he said. "I had discussions with Yousef Serkal and he told me that in Under-12 and Under-14, they already have a national team and now they have been preparing for three years a youth team to play in the Under-17. I think one year we will see the results of that, but don't forget that other associations are doing the same."

 

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