World Cup arrives in UAE

Prestigious Fifa trophy accorded a ‘Royal’ welcome on its maiden stopover in the UAE 

UAE FA President Yousef Al Serkal (right), Fifa representative former Argentinian footballer and international coach Gabriel Calderon (centre) and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports Ali Majed Al Mansoori take a close look at the Fifa World Cup 2014 trophy in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. — AFP
The UAE may have not qualified for the Fifa World Cup to be held in Brazil 2014, but the country had the honour of being a part of the biggest showpiece on the planet.

The Fifa World Cup Trophy touched down in the UAE for the very first time in history and it received a truly ‘Royal’ welcome. The pure gold Trophy, weighing in at just over six kg of 18 carat gold and standing at 14.4 inches tall, arrived from Doha, Qatar in a Coca-Cola-liveried plane at the Royal Jet Terminal of the Abu Dhabi International Airport on Sunday.
The Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola was launched in Brazil on September 12 this year and the UAE was one of the three Middle Eastern stopovers. The Trophy arrived in Saudi Arabia before travelling to Doha, Qatar, the venue of the 2022 World Cup.
The UAE was the last stopover. The Trophy will spend two days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Trophy was taken to the Burj Plaza in Dubai on Sunday. It will return to the Capital on Monday, where it will be kept for public viewing at the Malaib, at the Corniche Road from 10 a.m to 10 pm.
The media drew clamour to get a perfect shot of the Fifa World Cup at the Abu Dhabi International Airport on Sunday. — KT photo by Nezar Balout
After which, the Trophy will travel to the Pacific Islands, Central America, the Caribbean before winding its tour in Brazil in April. The Trophy would have visited 90 countries, travelled 92,000 miles, which is over 3.5 times around the world, over nine months.
A private ceremony was held at the Royal Jet Terminal, hosted by the Coca-Cola delegation in co-ordination with Fifa representatives. In attendance were a number of VVIPS such as Shaikh Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan and UAE FA President Yousef Al Serkal.
“We are honoured to be one of the stop overs in the Middle East. The UAE will be the last stopover in the Middle East,” Yousef Al Serkal, President of the UAEFA said as the Trophy was unveiled at the Terminal.
“We are very proud to welcome the Fifa World Cup Trophy to the UAE, a country that embodies the very essence of football, from the national passion for the sport, to the unity that defines the sportsmanship. This is a very special milestone and we are happy to be a part of it and to host the Trophy on UAE land, spreading happiness to all,” he added. Former Argentine international Gabriel Calderon, who has experience of coaching in the UAE, hoped that it will inspire more youngsters to take up football.
“I’m glad to be back here. The Fifa World Cup transcends cultures and religions. And that is why I love football. Having this Trophy close to you allows us to dream. I hope it inspires young people to play football. The UAEFA has done a lot for the development of football. This country sets a good example to develop football. I have seen it over the past 10 years,” said Calderon, who is the Fifa Ambassador for the event. He previously coached UAE club Bani Yas. Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, echoed what was on everyone’s mind. “We hope that the Trophy will come to Abu Dhabi someday and stay for four years,” Al Mansoori said.
At the Malaib, at the Corniche Road, a Fan Zone has been set up and fans will be able to participate in a series of interactive activities before going through to see the Trophy. A larger than life ‘Brazuca’ football, the official match ball of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, will be made readily available for fans to rejoice in the adidas area, making for a truly authentic experience.