Ronaldo, Messi – both in with a chance of playing at the 2017 Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi
Preparations for the event, which takes place in the UAE this December, ramped up when the official emblem and match schedule were confirmed at a launch event in the capital.
The Fifa Club World Cup, a seven-team competition that pits against one another the winners of the six continental confederations, will be staged in the UAE for the next two years. The UAE has hosted the tournament twice before, in 2009 and 2010, with Barcelona and Inter Milan emerging as victors. This year’s event opens on December 6 at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, where the winner of the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League takes on the champions of Oceania. The final takes place at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City on December 16. All eight matches will be played across those two venues.
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“With the announcement of the official emblem, this is an important milestone on our journey to the 14th edition of this event,” Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, the chairman of the Local Organising Committee, said. “It is a great honour for the UAE to host this tournament once again. Today people talk about economic issues in the UAE because of the lower oil prices, but this is the answer from the UAE to that. We are saying we are committed to all the agreements we have signed and everything is progressing perfectly. This is proof we are still committed to making these tournaments successful. This is how we can gain the trust of Fifa when we request in future to hosts more events. We will showcase our country as a world-class sporting destination. We look forward to welcoming fans in December.”
Improving UAE football
“I’m sure this tournament, coming back to our capital after six or seven years, will be more celebratory, more organised and it will have all the magnificent things that you can accommodate with it,” Marwan bin Ghalita, the president of the Football Association, said. “Today the infrastructure is more ready than before and the human capital to organise such a tournament is ready and capable of giving their best. I believe the UAE’s citizens, or tourists coming from outside the country, will see something that will make them happy. I’m very happy regarding the participation of our teams at this event, because when you take part with the best teams in the world you gain more experience and get a new challenge for the players at a higher level. I just hope that a good crowd shows up – we need to engage fans from now – and that there’s good play.”
“We saw the UAE deliver great tournaments in 2009 and 2010 and it is only going to be even better than those editions,” Colin Smith, the chief competitions and events officer at Fifa, said. “Even the landscape of the UAE has evolved quite significantly in the past seven to eight years. It is a much more mature industry now and the fan engagement and how we will promote the tournament will be better than what we have seen before. We have two great stadiums in Zayed Sports City, which is undergoing thorough refurbishment, and Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, which is a great stadium with 22,000 capacity.”
Ticket sales will be launched in the coming weeks on Fifa.com.
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Updated: April 11, 2017 04:00 AM