x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Spirit of the Union: UAE Gulf Cup heroes net Dh174m for uniting a nation

Following celebratory donations from rulers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, the Ruler of Fujairah added Dh10m to the pot yesterday.

The victorious players, coaches and technical staff of the UAE football team have netted almost Dh200 million between them for winning the Gulf Cup.

Following celebratory donations from Rulers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Qaiwain, the Ruler of Fujairah added Dh10m to the already overflowing pot yesterday, bringing the total to Dh174m.

The rewards began rolling in after the President, Sheikh Khalifa, handed the team Dh50m when he met them last Saturday after their dramatic extra-time win against Iraq in the Bahrain final the night before. His gift was matched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, the following day.

The money will push the team to even greater success, said Yousuf Abdullah, the secretary general of the UAE Football Association.

"This has really given the team more responsibility and they feel that the victory was great for all the UAE - from the Rulers to all the people living in the country," he said.

Football in the country has gone through a major transition, Mr Abdullah added, and will continue to improve thanks to national support.

"The spectators went to Bahrain - 50,000 travelled from the UAE - and, really, this is a big victory, showing how football unites people.

"People came together supporting the players and I think this was one of the key things and the team fought in the final to win the cup."

Further gifts came from Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum, the wife of Sheikh Mohammed, who donated Dh25m; Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Saeed, the sons of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, the Minister of Finance and Dubai's Deputy Ruler, who donated Dh12m, and the Rulers of Umm Al Qaiwain and Sharjah, who each gave Dh10m. The Ruler of Ajman gifted the team Dh7m.

Many of the squad had already received Dh500,000 each when they qualified for last summer's London Olympic Games.

zalhassani@thenational.ae