x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Zayed Sport City to host Brazil match

The match is part of the South American's tour and it will be financed by sponsors and television rights.

Brazil’s Dani Alves, right, is expected to be play when his team meet Iran next week. Ray Stubblebine / Reuters
Brazil’s Dani Alves, right, is expected to be play when his team meet Iran next week. Ray Stubblebine / Reuters

ABU DHABI // The capital was selected to host next week's friendly between Brazil and Iran because of the emirate's track record in staging high-profile international sporting events. 

The Football Association (FA) put pen to paper yesterday on a deal to stage the match - which will take place at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sport City Stadium on October 7 - with ISE/Kentaro, a Switzerland-based sports marketing agency which has an agreement with the Brazilian Football Federation (BFF).

The game's organisers described the opportunity to host a match involving the five-time world champions as a "win-win" for the FA. 

"The UAEFA is not absorbing any cost at all to host the game," Philippe Huber, the chief executive of ISE/Kentaro, said. 

"There are financial obligations for us to consider, including flights and hotels, but this is a big operation. The game is part of Brazil's world tour and the costs are being covered by the tour's sponsors, as well as international television distribution."

Huber believes the FA's promptness in finalising the agreement - they only received the proposal on Tuesday morning - was based on the recognition the publicity hosting a match involving Brazil would generate. 

"The exposure Abu Dhabi will receive is going to be amazing," Huber said. "The city is already on the international football map, but this game will see Abu Dhabi promoted around the world for nothing.

"Abu Dhabi is capable of hosting events of this nature because of its excellent facilities and infrastructure. We have partners here, but the facilities on offer made the decision to play the game here an easy one." 

With international backing funding Brazil's visit, Huber said he was now courting local financial support for the game. "We are in the final stages of finding Abu Dhabi-based sponsors," he said. 

"This is a one-off platform for them and a unique opportunity to promote their brands to Brazil's huge international fan base."

Huber said that other possible opponents had been presented to the BFF, but he believes Iran will prove worthy in a match that will be broadcast to 100 million potential viewers in 180 countries around the world. 

"We had a few other teams available, but Iran were by far the strongest opponent," Huber said. "They are a true power in international football and will be popular opposition in Abu Dhabi."

With the Iran team due to arrive in Abu Dhabi on Monday, the South Americans' largely European-based squad are scheduled to arrive a day later. The match will kick-off at 9pm, and tickets could go on sale today. 

"We hope to release tickets in the next 24 hours and we have three categories - Dh50, 100 and 150," Huber said. "VIP hospitality boxes will also be available." Under the terms of the contract, the FA will provide the match officials for the friendly.

"We will provide a referee, linesmen and all other officials," Julian Stanculescu, the FA press officer, said. 

emegson@thenational.ae