Lionel Messi and Argentina will prepare for the 2022 World Cup with a training camp in Abu Dhabi as part of a partnership between the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) and Argentina Football Association (AFA).
The arrival date and training schedule has yet to be revealed but Aref Al Awani, general secretary of ADSC, said it had been made possible through a strategic cooperation agreement with the AFA after months of joint exchange programmes.
“We are overwhelmed with the partnership agreement with the Argentina Football Association,” Al Awani said after completing paperwork in London on Wednesday.
“It’s among our top priority to strengthen our already friendly and strong partnership with international sports federations and institutions as we enhance Abu Dhabi’s global status as a hotspot for hosting a wide variety of world-class sporting events.
“Argentina is one of the world's leading football nations that produced such luminaries as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, and we are absolutely delighted to host their training camp in Abu Dhabi."
Al Awani said Argentina's training camp in Abu Dhabi will be an opportunity for football fans to watch up close the squad's preparations ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. Argentina have been drawn in Group C alongside Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia, whom they meet in their opener on November 22.
“[Argentina] are one of the leading candidates for the World Cup and has a large fan base around the world,” Al Awani said. “They will be closely watched by the football fraternity and the international media around the world, and we are honoured to be their host.
“We welcome all Argentine fans to come and enjoy their stay in Abu Dhabi and the whole of UAE to see world stars as Messi and company in training.”
The partnership between the ADSC and AFA will also see Abu Dhabi host the SuperCopa Argentina final - played between the Primera Division and Copa Argentina champions - for four years, starting from January 2023.
“Within the expansion strategy of our football being able to transfer the Argentine Super Cup to a destination like Abu Dhabi is very meaningful,” AFA president Claudio Tapia said.
“This agreement will give greater exposure and global visibility to our competition and create new commercial opportunities for the clubs and for our association.
“We welcome Abu Dhabi Sports Council as a new commercial partner of AFA. We share the passion for football and we will work together to leave a strong legacy footprint in Abu Dhabi.”