x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE not too hot to handle World Cup

Portsmouth's Sylvain Distin believes the harsh summers do not rule out the UAE hosting a major sporting event.

The Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin, seen here before last season's FA Cup final against Cardiff City, is currently in Dubai with the rest of his teammates on a training exercise.
The Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin, seen here before last season's FA Cup final against Cardiff City, is currently in Dubai with the rest of his teammates on a training exercise.

DUBAI // The recent rugby Sevens World Cup brought together the game's headliners and the glitterati will converge again later this month for the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world. Later in the year, the glamorous world of Formula One will make its final pitstop of the season in Abu Dhabi and a month later in December, the superstars of Manchester United will be in the Capital to vie for the Fifa Club World Cup trophy. With events such as these, the possibility of an Olympic or the football World Cup visiting the country in the near future looks a sound probability, and the touring stars of English Premier League side Portsmouth are convinced the UAE can host a "fantastic" event. "In this region, it seems to me, there is a massive drive to achieve things," said the Pompey midfielder Richard Hughes, a Scotland international. "The facilities and organisational skills that they have in this region, if they want to do something inevitably they will succeed. That is the way it appears to me as a foreigner visiting the country. "I think facilities are important for an event such as the World Cup and they definitely have them. If you need more facilities I am sure they will add to them. The organisation over here is something that is fantastic. "So if they are given the opportunity to do so, I think it will be a fantastic event."

While you can find little fault with the facilities available, the harsh summers here have been cited as one of the reasons against the hosting of a World Cup. Sylvain Distin, the Portsmouth vice captain, however dismissed weather as a criterion. "How does it feel when we play in minus 20 in England," said the Frenchman. "It's the same, that's it." Hughes added: "You talk about the weather, in 2002 when we had the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, there were different kinds of problems. "But they managed to overcome them and have a fantastic tournament in the end. So I don't see why a tournament in this region could be equally successful. If they set their minds on it, I am sure they will achieve their goals." Portsmouth, the winners of the 2008 FA Cup, are training in Dubai and announced their partnership with Footie Abu Dhabi, a first-of-its-kind dedicated football event that will be held in Abu Dhabi in December. Footie Abu Dhabi will host some of the world's top football celebrities, former football players, international football stars and coaches from December 10-12. "Footie Abu Dhabi 2009 is set to become the annual meeting place for football professionals from all over the Middle East," said Gerard C Leubel, the Chief Executive of Senses International, who are organising the event. "Not only is it promising fantastic action and a festival atmosphere, but it will also be a landmark event for football as we look forward to welcoming some of the world's best known celebrities in the industry." Ian Woan, the Pompey coach, added: "We believe that Footie Abu Dhabi will definitely enhance the popularity of football in the UAE and unite football fans and enthusiasts from different backgrounds by bringing them together under one roof."

arizvi@thenational.ae