Abu Dhabi and Dubai both impress but Lake Como in Italy will be the host for the Under 19s Champions League. Organisers left the door open for the UAE's future involvement.
Under 19s Champions League: Lake Como trumps UAE for tournament
DUBAI // The semi-finals and finals of European football's embryonic Under 19s Champions League will be played at Lake Como, Italy, despite strong interest from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Justin Andrews, the co-founder of the NextGen Series, travelled to the Middle East last month and held meetings with the sports councils of both emirates.
He said logistics and timing resulted in the competition, that features the likes of Chelsea, Inter Milan and Barcelona, this year opting for a host city closer to its European base. The final stages of the tournament will instead be held between March 29 and April 1 at the 13,000-seat Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia. Andrews said he will return to the UAE in the future to explore further opportunities.
"When it came to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, there were two issues, really," he told The National. "One was the timing: for us to do it in the Middle East and get the timing right, it would have been too tight.
"Secondly, we had a very good offer from Italy."
Andrews said that while he was delighted to have agreed the deal with Lake Como, he left the Emirates convinced the tournament has a bright future in the region and intends to sit down next month to "plan properly ahead of the NextGen Series for 2014".
"The meetings for us were really encouraging," he said, adding talks were held about expanding the event to integrate activities, such as a coaching convention.
"We just needed more time and more planning … If we have genuine plans to host a bigger event with coaching conventions and engaging in the community, then we have to put a bigger programme together and we would want to do that fairly promptly."
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