x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Real Madrid look to stage friendly in UAE

Real Madrid, one of the most successful football clubs in the world, could soon play a friendly match in the UAE.

Real Madrid players like Raul could be on their way to either Dubai or Abu Dhabi for the friendly match on Dec 22.
Real Madrid players like Raul could be on their way to either Dubai or Abu Dhabi for the friendly match on Dec 22.

ABU DHABI // Real Madrid, one of the most successful football clubs in the world, could play a friendly match in the UAE later this month. The management of the record nine-time European Cup winners said the club was likely to play a one-off match in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi before the start of their winter break, although the opposition has not yet been named.

Real Madrid players, though, are resisting the idea. They were reported to be unhappy at having to sacrifice two days of their winter break to travel to the UAE. The club's president, Ramón Calderón, said: "Madrid will get US$4.5 million [Dh16.5m] for playing on Dec 22 in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai. "We thought it would be nice to offer this money as compensation to our players for surrendering two days' holiday."

A Dec 22 match would come a day after the final match before Real's break, at home to Valencia. Real, who have won the Spanish league 31 times including the past two years, do not play a domestic game between Dec 21 and Jan 4, when they encounter Villareal. No one from the UAE Football Association was available to comment on the possible fixture yesterday. The Spanish daily sport newspaper El Mundo Deportivo said most players had already planned their Christmas holidays and were due to return to their home countries on Dec 22.

Eugenio Martinez Bravo, the chairman of the Real Madrid supporters' club La Plataforma Blanca, said the club should seek to boost profits by playing matches abroad in exchange for a big payday. "The solution lies in the globalisation of the club. Real Madrid is a moneymaking machine. We have to go where the money is, whether it is in Abu Dhabi, the UAE or in China." Should the game go ahead, it would be too soon for UAE fans to see Real's latest superstar in action.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the Dutch striker who signed from Ajax this week for ?27 million (Dh126m), will not join his new club until January. AC Milan and Hamburg will spend part of their winter break in Dubai, and will play each other in a friendly match at The Sevens on Jan 6. @Email:rhughes@thenational.ae