The UAE could add to its portfolio of staging international events after Fifa confirmed yesterday the country had submitted bids to host three youth World Cup football tournaments.
The men’s Under 20 and Under 17 World Cups, both to be staged in 2013, as well as the women’s Under 17 competition in 2014, could all take place in the Emirates after football’s governing body yesterday revealed the bidding nations for six tournaments in total.
Although the chances of the UAE hosting all three are remote, the Football Association will submit their signed Hosting Agreements, together with their complete Bid Books by February 11. The respective hosts of the six competitions will be appointed by the Fifa Executive Committee at the beginning of March.
The fact that Abu Dhabi has successfully staged the Club World Cup for the past two years should aid the bid.
“We have registered our bids for these three tournaments and now we will submit our Bid Books and plans to Fifa,” Mohammed al Rumaithi, the president of the Football Association, said. “I am really hoping we will be able to bring these tournaments to the UAE. We owe it to the football fans – both the locals and expatriates. We want to take our football forward and share the game with the expatriates.
“We have conducted two successful Club World Cups and I believe that will really help our bid. We already have the infrastructure and stadiums in place. We hosted the 2003 Youth World Cup as well. So hopefully, these things will count in our favour.”
Khalid Ismail, the former national team striker who scored in the 1990 World Cup, believes hosting any of the tournaments would be a boost for domestic football in the country.
"It's good for youngsters – not just in the Emirates but in the whole Arab world," Ismail said.
"It's time to show the world we can really host major events in the future, similar to what we are seeing in Qatar.
“They have a strategy and they know how to bid for these things. We should do more of this. We are getting there but we need to understand better and bidding for these tournaments will help us do this.”