With less than a month to go until the UAE hosts the FIFA Club World Cup, the tournament’s director has emphasised his focus on attracting tourists to the UAE.
Aref Hamed Al Awani, who leads the FIFA Club World Cup local organising committee, said: “We evaluate two main things: the economic and media impact.
“The main concern we are looking at is how to get a return from each event we host. At the same time, tourism is very important to us and to the UAE.”
The eight-match tournament takes place from 12-22 December. Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium hosts the first five matches before the action moves to Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.
Over 30,000 foreign visitors are expected to descend on Abu Dhabi for the final. Al Awani hopes this burst of tourism will give the hosts a good return on their investment in the tournament.
It is the fourth FIFA Club World Cup to be held in the UAE, after 2009, 2010 and 2017.
— Al Ain FC – EN (@alainfcae_en) April 21, 2018
The opening match will see Al Ain FC play in their home stadium against Team Wellington FC. Al Ain qualified for the tournament by winning the host nation’s domestic league, while Team Wellington won the OFC Champions League.
Kashima Antlers, ES Tunis and CD Guadalajara will join the competition in the quarter finals after winning their respective confederation tournaments.
Real Madrid, who have won three of the past four editions, will return in the semi-finals off the back of their UEFA Champions League win in May.
Also joining the semi-final stage of the tournament will be the winner of South America’s Copa Libertadores. Arch-rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors will play the second leg of the final on 24 November.