20210324 Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Minister of Finance and Industry. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

The sports world in the UAE is paying tribute to Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, after Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced his death at the age of 75 on Wednesday.

The country’s biggest football clubs mourned Sheikh Hamdan, who is remembered as a champion of sports development in the UAE.

Al Wasl SC led the emotional tributes on social media, wishing solace and patience for royal family members.

“The eye will fill with tears, the heart will grieve, and we will be sad to lose you. We will not forget you and you will remain alive in our hearts,” wrote the club, in an Arabic statement on Instagram.

“We ask God Almighty to cover him with the breadth of his mercy and forgiveness, and to inspire honourable family with patience and solace ... and we belong to God and to Him we shall return.”

Al Wahda also posted a heartfelt tribute on Instagram.

“With hearts believing in the judgment and destiny of God, and with the utmost sadness and sorrow, we mourn he who is forgiven, God Almighty willing, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and we extend our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy to the leadership and people of the Emirates,” Al Wahda FC posted.

Al Wahda and UAE national team player Ismaeil Matar took to Twitter with his own prayers.

In tribute, Al Nasr, considered to be the UAE’s first and oldest football club founded in 1945, changed their profile picture on Instagram to a black-and-white photograph of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid. They also posted an image to their account with the words: “To God we belong and to God we shall return.”

Al Jazira, Al Ain and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were among the football clubs to post sincere condolences on social media.

Over the decades, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid has been a vocal supporter of Al Nasr’s growth, as well as the development of the UAE national football team. His Highness ten years ago called upon fans to show their support.

“The team needs a lot of support from the public,” he said in 2001, while speaking to the media. “It is very important that all sports are developed to the desired levels. Most important, sports must be encouraged and supported at the school level.”

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid was also a huge proponent of developing youth players, calling them “the future of our sport.”