FIFA Club World Cup™ host Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi will host FIFA Club World Cup Image: Mubadala

Abu Dhabi – capital of UAE – has been confirmed as host of the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup™.

‘The National’ stated that FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced the news at the world governing body’s council meeting held on October 20th. The 2021 tournament was originally set to take place in Japan in December, but the Japan Football Association withdrew last month citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Till few days back, Japan was bruised by the deadly virus though it has been able to bring the situation under control to a considerable extent. Nevertheless, the island country does not want to take any chance by hosting a sporting showpiece as in events like these the chances of virus spread is very high.

The FIFA Club World Cup™ is an international men’s association football competition organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. The competition was first contested in the year 2000 as the FIFA Club World Championship.

Zurich (Switzerland)-headquartered FIFA is a non-profit organization that describes itself as an international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. It is the highest governing body of association football.

No new date for the Abu Dhabi competition has been confirmed, although a slot in February is under consideration.

‘The National’ further stated that the UAE has previously staged the Club World Cup four times, with Abu Dhabi hosting in 2009, 2010, 2017, and 2018. The 2021 tournament will feature the Premier League club Chelsea F.C. (UK) and five other continental club champions, as well as the UAE Pro League club Al Jazira, the current UAE champions.

Stated Infantino, “The Council endorsed a meeting, a global summit meeting to take place on December 20th this year with the aim of providing a presentation to all 211 member-nations about the future of football, men’s football, women’s football, and youth football.”

The FIFA boss added, “It was decided that the Club World Cup 2021 will be played in early 2022 – the exact dates are still to be confirmed – but after the withdrawal of Japan because of the pandemic, the host will be the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, who have hosted this event already a few times as you know.”

Chelsea qualifies for the Club World Cup as reigning European champions, alongside African counterparts Al Ahly SC of Egypt and Oceanic champions Auckland City FC of New Zealand. Jazira, who captured last season’s Arabian Gulf League – the domestic competition has since been renamed the Adnoc Pro League – will contest the event for the second time.

The Abu Dhabi club, who clinched the UAE championship last season for a third time in their history, reached the Club World Cup semi-final in their only other appearance, in 2017, where they were defeated 2-1 by eventual winners Real Madrid, the Spanish professional football club.

Madrid went on to lift the title again the following year to become the outright record holders, with four. FC Barcelona (Spain) and Inter Milan (Italy) represent the other previous winners in the UAE, in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Remarked Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, “We are absolutely delighted to host the FIFA Club World Cup™ in Abu Dhabi for the fifth time. It goes without saying the competition brings both the fan-favorite clubs and players from around the world. This is awesome and a tremendous honor for us. We would like to thank FIFA for the confidence and faith they have on us, based on the past successes of playing host to this immensely popular competition.”

Added Al Awani, “We remain singleminded in our commitment to bringing world-class sports events to Abu Dhabi and making the UAE a central hub for sporting events. It is of utmost importance to us to offer a safe environment for the event, especially after successfully hosting world-class sporting events that received praise for the organization and for the best COVID protocols. We welcome fans to the Club World Cup with our traditional Arabic hospitality, state-of-the-art infrastructure and stadiums, with world-class travel and leisure facilities.”

The 2017 and 2018 competitions were played at the 43,206-capacity Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi and the 25,053-capacity Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, UAE. The Saudi Arabian professional football club Al Ahli Saudi FC, the Emirati professional football club of Abu Dhabi Al Wahda FC and Al Ain FC of Abu Dhabi have all represented the UAE at the Club World Cup.

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