Dubai: Some of the biggest names in world football have arrived here to take part in the star-studded 7th Dubai International Sports Conference, which begins at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel on Friday.
Michel Platini, the former France player and now president of the European game’s governing body Uefa, will make the first speech from about 4.15pm. The conference as a whole is titled “Professional Ethics: Theory and Practice” and the 57-year-old is due to discuss Uefa’s ethical plan and the future of football.
The highlight of day one of the two-day conference is likely to be the late panel session involving outspoken Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho and legendary Argentinian Diego Maradona, who will share the stage to discuss sports strategies and planning from 7.45pm.
Other big names due to speak at the Dubai Sports Council (DSC)-organised conference include Italian management trio Fabio Capello, Walter Zenga and Alberto Zaccheroni, prolific Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and cancer-surviving Barcelona defender Eric Abidal.
“All the preparations are going well,” Mohammad Al Kamali, Chairman of the Organising Committee, told Gulf News. “Jose Mourinho arrived yesterday [Wednesday] and Eric Abidal came on Tuesday. We are expecting Michel Platini on Thursday night.”
Al Kamali was particularly looking forward to the session involving Mourinho and Dubai sports ambassador Maradona.
“This session will be like a dream come true for the world of football. To have one of the world’s best players on the same platform as one of the world’s best coaches is something that has not happened in a long time,” he said.
“I am convinced that the attention of the entire footballing fraternity will be on Dubai to see how these two geniuses conduct themselves during such an august gathering.
“Though Mourinho has been a bit down of late due to the results at Real Madrid, we believe his time in Dubai will be the best thing for him to recharge and get his club’s campaign running during the new year. I am sure both men will throw a lot of light on the hidden side of the football world. Both are contemporaries and it will be a treat to listen to their experiences.”
Friday’s schedule also includes a discussion on professional players’ behaviour and codes of conduct, which will involve Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, UAE Pro-League Committee president Mohammad Thani Al Rumaithi and Al Ahli club chairman Abdullah Saeed Al Naboudah.
DSC Marketing and Communications Director Rashid Al Awadi, Etisalat’s Ali Al Ahmad and Asian Football Confederation Head of Marketing Dr Hafez Al Medlej will then talk about investment in football.