Football’s coming home. This month, your kids can have the privilege of watching some of the finest players on the planet duke it out in the FIFA Club World Cup 2017, right here in the Emirates.
Whether they are budding players themselves who want to watch and pick up some top tips from the pros, or if you just fancy an extraordinary day out with the family, this seven-team tournament is an absolute must-do.
Returning to Abu Dhabi, which previously hosted the 2009 and 2010 tournaments, this year’s takes place from December 6 to 16, and will see seven title-winning teams from all over the world come together to play eight title-deciding matches at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi and Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, to see who will be crowned world club champions. At the time of writing, five teams have already qualified for the football fiesta: Auckland City FC of New Zealand (the OFC Champions League winners), C.F. Pachuca of Mexico (the CONCACAF Champions League winners), Real Madrid C.F. of Spain (the UEFA Champions League winners), Wydad Casablanca of Morocco (the CAF Champions League) and the UAE’s host team and Arabian Gulf League winner, Al Jazira. They will be joined by the winners of this year’s AFC Champions League and the Copa Libertadores. Game on, indeed.
Even better, in keeping with the sport’s sense of inclusivity, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) here also ran an induction programme in the run-up to the event inviting volunteers from any age-range and walk of life to become volunteers at the global showpiece event. Not surprisingly, close to 5,000 applications flooded in from people keen to rub shoulders with some genuine sporting greats and get enviably close to the action.
“We are pleased to have had such an extremely positive response from volunteers keen to support the biggest football tournament in the region this year,” says Ahmed Al Qubaisi, director of marketing and communications. “This tournament would be impossible to stage without their expertise and we are looking forward to delivering a successful tournament broadcast across the world, and that each and every volunteer will learn so much from.”
With that in mind, the committee has now started the induction programme, which will see volunteers attend a number of sessions to prepare them for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will see them working across positions in marketing and communication, hospitality and ticketing.
The tournament is loaded with talent, but without doubt the biggest draw will be defending champions, Real Madrid. The European icons have a huge fan base here in the UAE, and the FIFA Club World Cup 2017 is a massively rare opportunity for them to watch the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Tony Kroos, Marcelo and Isco – players who are legends for their national teams and undoubtedly one of the most talented groups of players the world has ever seen.
The competition kicks off at 9pm on December 6, when Al Jazira take on Auckland City FC in the first round, hoping to give themselves the chance to take on Madrid’s Galacticos in the semi-final (although, the Asian champions will stand in their way). And while ticket prices vary depending on the match, some come in at as little as Dhs20, making it an awesome opportunity for your kids to experience a truly great sporting showcase.
The LOC, meanwhile, is committed to nuturing budding talents in the region, and see their volunteering scheme – conducted in partnership with www.volunteers.ae – as a way to inspire them, working with schools, colleges, universities and local football academies to make people’s dreams come true. “It is great to see so many enthusiastic people,” says Mohammad Al Shateri, volunteer manager, “determined to assist the LOC in hosting this highly anticipated football spectacle.” We’ll be cheering them all on from the stands.
Dec 6-16, from Dhs20. FIFA.com/uae2017 and www.ticketmaster.ae.