Abu Dhabi: Football fans are in for a feast as the FIFA Club World Cup returns to the UAE. The 14th edition of the tournament, which kicked off in Abu Dhabi on December 6 and runs until December 16, features the champion clubs from each of the six continental confederations, as well as the UAE’s national league champion. The matches are being played at two state-of-the-art stadiums – Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain and Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.
This is the third time the global club competition is being held in the UAE, which will also host the 2018 edition.
The seven teams battling it out for the coveted trophy are: Brazilian professional football club Grêmio, winners of 2017 Copa Libertadores; Spain’s Real Madrid, winners of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League; Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, winners of the 2017 AFC Champions League; Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club, winners of the 2017 CAF Champions League; New Zealand’s Auckland City FC, winners of the 2017 OFC Champions League; Mexico’s C.F. Pachuca, winners of the 2016–17 CONCACAF Champions League and UAE’s Al Jazira, winners of the 2016–17 UAE Pro-League.
“We look forward to inspiring the next generation of our country’s athletes. Eight matches, two state-of-the-art stadiums, perfect weather plus world-class club football make this a sporting experience not to be missed,” said Aref Hamad Al Awani, tournament director of the Local Organising Committee (LOC).
Fans will have the chance to watch some of football’s biggest stars, including FIFA Club World Cup 2014 and 2016 Champion and four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and AFC Asian Cup 2011 winner and 2010 Japanese Footballer of the Year, Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), among others.
The tournament’s first semi-final will be held in Al Ain on December 12 and the second in Abu Dhabi on December 13. The finals will be held in Abu Dhabi on December 16.
In addition to the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018, the country will also host the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. “To host three globally recognised football competitions in less than two years is a statement of our sporting intent,” said Al Awani.
To purchase match tickets and for more information visit www.fifa.com/uae2017
The writer is an Abu Dhabi-based frelance journalist