Real Madrid hero Iker Casillas on the red carpet in Dubai
Real Madrid hero Iker Casillas on the red carpet in Dubai Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: The eyes of the footballing world will be fixed on the UAE with the Dubai International Sports Conference and Dubai Globe Soccer Awards scheduled to be held at the Armani Hotel at the foot of the iconic Burj Khalifa, later on Saturday.

Much of the attention will be focused on Poland and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo as they are expected to be the closest competitors for the ‘Best Player of the Year’ and ‘Player of the Century’ awards.

The Warsaw-born Lewandowski last week pipped Ronaldo and Barcelona star Lionel Messi to pick up his first-ever Fifa Player of the Year. The 32-year-old Poland captain scored an amazing 55 goals in just 47 appearances in Bayern Munich’s treble-winning season to finish as the top goalscorer in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and the UEFA Champions League.

Some of the top names from the footballing world led by Fifa President Gianni Infantino, Barcelona skipper Gerard Pique, Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, former Spanish star Emilio Butragueno, Liverpool’s Welsh legend Ian Rush and Egyptian legend Mahmoud El Khatib [Bibo] are among those who are expected to walk the red carpet before the conference and awards.

Last week, Ronaldo led both the ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Player of the Century’ categories of the Awards at the end of the second and final stage when the voting by fans stopped on December 21.

More than 13 million fans have voted for their favourites in the second stage, taking the aggregate of fan votes for this year’s Dubai Globe Soccer Awards to more than 21 million. More than 8 million fans had voted in the first round itself.

Organised under the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative, this year’s conference — to be addressed by Ronaldo, Lewandowski and Casillas — is being held under the theme of ‘Football at the Top’.

Nominations have been received for seven different categories including Player of the Year, Club of the Year, Coach of the Year, Player of the Century 2001-2020, Club of the Century 2001-2020, Coach of the Century 2001-2020 and Agent of the Century.