x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sheikh Hazza wins UAE sports personality award

Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the honorary chairman of the UAE Football Association, has been named the UAE Sports Personality of the Year.

Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Al Ain Sports Club, greets the Italian referee Pierluigi Collina.
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Al Ain Sports Club, greets the Italian referee Pierluigi Collina.

Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the honorary chairman of the UAE Football Association, who helped bring the Club World Cup to Abu Dhabi, has been named the UAE Sports Personality of the Year. He was one of 12 winners announced yesterday in the inaugural Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards. They will collect a total of Dh10 million (US$2.7m) in prizes and be honoured at a ceremony in December.

Sheikh Hazza, who is also the chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Al Ain Sports Club, was picked for his "visionary leadership" of football in the Emirates. "He has been a beacon," said Dr Ahmed al Sharif, the secretary general of the Dubai Sports Council. "His visionary leadership has given a major lift to the game of football in particular and sports in general." Under Sheikh Hazza's oversight, the UAE landed the prestigious Fifa Club World Cup for the next two years. The newly formed Professional League has also been a success.

Sheikh Hazza put the Al Ain club in international headlines by signing players such as Chile's Jorge Valdivia, Brazil's Emerson and the top scorer in Argentina last year, Jose Sand. The awards programme was launched by Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. There were UAE and Arab winners in six categories. The jockey Ahmed Ajtebi was named top sportsman in the UAE. He rode two winners at the Dubai World Cup and captained the Rest of the World team at the annual jockeys' competition at Ascot.

Mahdi Ali, boss of the national youth football team, was named the UAE's best coach, while his Under 19 squad claimed the team award for winning the Asian Championship for the first time. "Mahdi Ali and his youth football team were obvious choices because they have achieved what no coach or team has done before," Dr al Sharif said. Mohammed ben Sulayem, the former rallying star who is the FIA vice-president for sport and the president of the Automobile and Touring Club, was named the best UAE administrator.

The Sharjah Ladies Club and the UAE Athletics Association shared the award for the best UAE organisation. The Arab awards went to: Sports personality: Sheikh Ahmed bin Fahd Al Sabah, the head of Kuwait's Olympic committee and football association. Sportsman: Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, the reigning Olympic and world swimming champion in the 1,500m freestyle. Coach: Ahmed Hassan Shehata of Egypt's national football team.

Team: Oman, which won the football Gulf Cup in January. Administrator/official: Saad Kamil al Fadhli of Kuwait, the referee who officiated at the 2002 Fifa World Cup. Organisation: Tunisia's National Centre for Medicine and Sports Science. Nominations were made from 17 countries. A panel of three people rated each entry, and the final selections were made by an executive board. There are plans to add an international category within three years, organisers said.

arizvi@thenational.ae