Football with its universal dimension has recently been the main promotional tool of the United Arab Emirates. With Qatar bidding for World Cup 2022, the UAE are making a significant step in showing the world what they are capable of doing in football. Although the UAE national team had only one appearance in World Cup (1990 eliminated after the 1st round), the region is tapping into all sports to promote the country, attract new investors and also positioning itself as the Elite class in all sports.
According to Jad Chouman (Head of Product & Sports Marketing adidas Emerging Markets), “There are many plans to grow sports in the UAE, and a lot of focus on the non traditional sports, such as golf, F1, horse-races, etc,. The long term of course is to gain an advanced rank on the global map, but we still believe there’s a lot of room to progress as we are still not there yet”.
Some football players before they retire embrace a new “challenge” in the United Arab Emirates where I see it as a win win solution. A financially profitable challenge for the upcoming retired player and a great buzz and focus on the UAE league. I could also add that the player brings his skills and knowledge and is a natural leader where others can learn from (I think of Frank Leboeuf…..or others). In addition, many european clubs are touring in summer in the UAE for many reasons. Firstly, it is a much closer destination than the US and Asia. Secondly, tourism in this region is booming and having AC Milan or FC Barcelona as a main attraction is a meaningful added value.
In December 2009, the FIFA Club World Cup (formerly known as Toyota Cup) was held in Abu Dhabi. Australia, Japan, Portugal who bid for the tournament gave an idea of the importance of hosting such an event. The seven teams will compete over eight matches for a prize fund of USD 16.5 million, with the winners earning $5 million USD. “The UAE has and will witness many international event on the football side. The UAE hosted the finals of the FIFA World Cup U-21 a few years back, the FIFA Beach Soccer in 2009 as well as the FIFA Club World Cup for 2009 and 2010″, says Jad Chouman.
More and more the United Arab Emirates position themselves as a credible football country. As I mentioned earlier, Qatar bidding for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is another major move. Five World Cup stadiums are (or will be) built, and it is another example of how the region is sending the football message to the world.
To launch their bid, Qatar featured a pretty amazing booth display at Soccerex to demonstrate their commitment to bringing the World Cup to their country for the first time! (Thanks to Partnership Activation for the heads up)
What do you think of sports, especially football growing in the Middle East? Have you attended a sporting event there you could share with us? Thanks for sharing.