x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

UAE wants to host Fifa Club World Cup in 2016 and 2017

The Emirates, which has hosted already hosted the tournament in 2009 and 2010, is bidding to hold it in 2017 and 2018, according to the Fifa website.

UAE fans cheer Inter Milan on during the Club World Cup when it was hosted in the Emirates in 2010. Sammy Dallal / The National
UAE fans cheer Inter Milan on during the Club World Cup when it was hosted in the Emirates in 2010. Sammy Dallal / The National

Fifa’s Club World Cup could be heading back to the UAE, where it was previously staged in 2009 and 2010.

UAE officials confirmed an interest in bidding for the tournament for 2017 and 2018, after Fifa announced receiving 31 declarations of interest for eight tournaments, including the Club World Cups as well as the 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup.

“The bid was made last month,” the UAE Football Association head Yousuf Al Serkal told The National. “Our bid is for the two sessions after the Morocco tournament.”

The annual tournament will be played in Morocco in December of this year, as it was last year – the practice has been to stage it for two successive years in the same country. India and Japan have declared an interest in hosting the 2015 and 2016 events.

Alongside the UAE, Brazil and Japan will also be in the running for those editions of Fifa’s major club competition. The UAE believes that its track record of hosting major events should help.

“We are confident,” Al Serkal said. “We did hold it successfully before and we hosted the Fifa U17 World Cup [last autumn] very successfully as well, so that will help us and support our bid, definitely.”

The complete set of bidding documents have to be submitted by August and Fifa’s Executive Committee will make its final decision in September. Al Serkal said that Abu Dhabi has been chosen as the potential host city, as it was in 2009 and 2010.

It will help the UAE’s bid that both of the previous editions were well-attended. Over 156,000 attended the eight games in 2009. Over 43,000 alone turned up at the Zayed Sports City stadium in the capital to watch Barcelona’s Lionel Messi score the winner against Estudiantes of Argentina in extra-time to win the 2009 tournament.

Overall attendance spiked higher the following year, with an estimated 200,000 turning up across the tournament. The final, at the same venue, was attended by 42,174, who watched Rafael Benitez’s Inter Milan comfortably beat the Congolese side TP Mazembe 3-0.

Al Ahli, champions this year in the Arabian Gulf League took part as the designated club from the host country in 2009, while Al Wahda took their place the next year.

The UAE has also expressed an interest in hosting the 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup. Full bids for that tournament have to be submitted by October, and a decision will be finalized in December.

The UAE is also in the running to host the Asian Cup for 2019, having officially entered a bid earlier this year.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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