As the UAE gears up to host the FIFA Club World Cup 2018 in December, the country's sporting authorities are also in talks to possibly host a Spanish top-flight game in Abu Dhabi, according to Aref Hamed Al Awani, tournament director of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE, local organising committee (LOC).
Speaking to Arabian Business, Al Awani said the UAE will make its decision based on the success of the upcoming La Liga game between Girona and Barcelona in the US in January. The match is scheduled to be played at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
“Yes, we are discussing that. We do have a good relationship and an MoU signed with La Liga and we are actively promoting it. Let’s see how they do it this year in the US. We would love the opportunity,” he said.
The plans are not confirmed, however, as Al Awani said certain clubs’ opposition towards hosting games abroad might act as a challenge in the UAE’s bid to feature the games.
La Liga president Javier Tebas on Tuesday (Oct 23) claimed that resistance to the controversial plans to hold a Spanish top-flight game in the United States is "cultural".
The match in Miami sparked fear that the Catalan giants would effectively be granted an extra home game. And while the two clubs involved support the idea, Barcelona's rival Real Madrid reportedly objected the move and protested to the Spanish FA last week.
The country's players' association and football federation have also both rejected the proposal.
“We are just monitoring what they have been announcing from the US. Nothing is confirmed from their side. We want to see if they succeed. We will bid for that. We see a lot of refusal coming out from clubs themselves and misunderstandings between federations and the clubs,” Al Awani said.
“When they agree on that, all parties will agree. We will try to discuss it to have one or two matches in the UAE, for sure. Whenever there’s a chance to host any event, we will try our best to host it. Our aim to always have Abu Dhabi as one of the world’s most important sport capitals,” he said.
Abu Dhabi is hosting this year's FIFA Club World Cup for the second year in a row.
The high profile competition will see UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid defend their FIFA Club World Cup title against the top club teams from each continent.
It will feature eight matches over 11 days at Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium and Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium.
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