This week our columnist looks at the latest Emirates deal and muses on Sven-Gören Eriksson’s departure
What do Hamburg, Arsenal, Paris St Germain, Olympiakos and Real Madrid all have in common? Emirates Airline. Real Madrid have become the latest European football club to sign a sponsorship deal with the Dubai-based carrier, and the great news for UAE football fans is that it’s likely we’ll have the La Liga side in Dubai early in 2014. It’s a huge deal for both entities, with Emirates hoping the money it spends will go towards winning more trophies. The airline is unrivalled in sport sponsorship, having recently partnered with the US Open series and Formula One. You may wonder if this will mean Real Madrid’s island in Ras Al Khaimah will get a kick-start – it launched last year with the help of Zinedine Zidane and club president Florentino Perez, but has seen little progress. The plans looked spectacular, with a stadium, theme park and villas all set to be built off the coast. Since then, however, little has been said (or done) and many believe the project has been scrapped all together. Emirates tell me they are not contractually obliged to invest in the island.
Kicking into gear around the time the island would have been opening is the next Volvo Ocean Race. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has already started planning for the race, which will begin in October 2014 and see the capital host a stopover in December 2014. Adil Khalid was the first Emirati to sail the world on the last outing, and this time the team is looking for more UAE nationals. Butti Al Mahairi, Abu Dhabi’s reserve crewman last year, told me they’re on the lookout for one or two more local sailors.
Back to football, and a quick note on Sven-Gören Eriksson. The former England manager has been at Dubai’s Al Nasr football club as a technical director for four months – and it seems that’s enough. He’s moving to China. Most expats head home eventually, but the Swede seems intent on anything but, having now worked everywhere from Mexico to the Ivory Coast, Asia to, erm, Notts County. Paradise. Didn’t realise the English country town was such a tax haven.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
One more thing...
The 17th Asian Games are to be held next year in Incheon, South Korea, running from September 19 to October 4. The event has the full support of the UAE, too. The country has become one of six destinations in Asia to stage a road show in support of it – the biggest sporting event after the Olympics. Let’s see how they top the Queen jumping out of a helicopter…