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UAE football can do well on the world stage: Fifa president Infantino

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on July 14, 2020
Fifa president Gianni Infantino (right) with AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa. - Agencies file

AFC Asian Cup hosted by the UAE last year was a turning point, says AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said that UAE football is developing and he is of the firm belief that the country has all the qualities to do well on the world stage.

Infantino and a host of top officials from the footballing world including AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the City Football Group, took part in a two-day webinar, an initiative launched by UAE Football Association president Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, aimed at setting a future development strategy for the advancement of the most popular sport in the country.

And Infantino said that the UAE can excel because the beautiful game is part of the country's values and unites everyone.

"I've been following UAE football and I know that it is developing," Infantino said in a recorded speech.

"And I believe that it (UAE football) has all the capabilities to excel, and because football is among its value, calling everyone to unite," the 50-year-old added.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, meanwhile, said that UAE football has come a long way since it turned professional in 2008.

"This initiative aims to set the road map towards the renaissance of the most popular game in the UAE. The UAEFA has come a long way in terms of professionalism over the past 12 years," said Sheikh Salman.

"Our goal at the AFC is to compete with Europe. Many countries have started based on the latest methods of development, and we believe that we can, and we succeeded in raising the number of countries participating in the AFC Asian Cup from 16 to 24 teams when the tournament was hosted by the UAE last year. It was a turning point we will build on in the future," he added.

Meanwhile, Khaldoon Al Mubarak said that the UAE can put in place a long-term development strategy that ensures sustainability and pointed to the example of Premier League winners Manchester City.

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