Dubai: The Fifa World Cup was on proud display in Dubai on Wednesday as it made its way to the UAE on its World Tour ahead of the finals in Russia this summer.
Glinting in the afternoon sunshine at the Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park, the trophy was unveiled by a delegation led by Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, and representatives of World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola.
“The tour of the Fifa World Cup trophy to more than 60 cities around the world is evidence of its global appeal and a confirmation of Fifa World Cup’s status as the greatest sporting extravaganza on the planet,” said Hareeb.
FIFA World Cup Trophy projected on Burj Khalifa in Dubai on Wednesday evening. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
“The trophy’s visit to Dubai as part of its global tour confirms the country’s position on the international sporting map. Dubai is one of the leading destinations of the world; it is a brand which enjoys great trust and an enviable reputation on the global stage, whether it be the world of politics, economics, tourism or sports.
“We have a very diverse community here, with citizens of more than 200 countries calling Dubai their home, and this Trophy Tour is an opportunity for them to celebrate in their national colours.”
“We at Dubai Sports Council are really pleased to cooperate with Coca-Cola Company to bring the Fifa World Cup Trophy here. Dubai is the only stop for the trophy in the GCC region and this is a testimony to UAE’s reputation as a top host of international events.
Also present was Ali Bujsaim, the Emirati referee who officiated at three World Cups – 1994, 1998 and 2002.
“When we talk about World Cups, there is one name that we can never forget - Ali Bujsaim,” said Hareb. “One of the most respected football referees during his time, Mr Bujsaim officiated seven matches at three World Cups including the opening match of the 2002 World Cup and the 1998 semi-final between Brazil and Netherlands. We are proud to say that Mr Bujsaim is now with us, as a member of the Dubai Sports Council board, and he will taking part in the celebrations as the trophy tours Dubai.”
The trophy was first introduced in 1974, replacing the Jules Rimet trophy, which was given to Brazil to keep outright having won the tournament three times.
Germany won the first tournament and also won it last time around in Brazil in 2014.
It has been held aloft in triumph by the likes of Paolo Rossi, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane in the 11 iterations of the tournament to date.
Which country will lift it for the 12th time? We will find out this summer.