Tuesday 15 June 2021 - 11:07:35 am

UAEFA’s initiatives during pandemic inspired by UAE’s traditional values: Mohammed bin Hazzam

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DUBAI, 8th March, 2021 (WAM) -- Mohammed bin Hazzam Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the UAE Football Association (UAEFA), stated that the initiatives launched by UAEFA’s board, headed by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, during the pandemic were inspired by the traditional values of the UAE and the actions of its leadership.

UAEFA’s main objective during the pandemic is to prioritise prevention over everything else, to protect the football family in the country, the region and the entire world, he said.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Al Dhaheri mentioned the possibility of hosting the remaining matches of the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup 2022 in the UAE, as well as the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers taking place in June, after sending a request to the Asian Football Confederation last week.

He also pointed out that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effects on sporting activities, UAEFA’s plans have not stopped and many virtual international conferences were organised and attended by international figures, most notably Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, and Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim, President of the Asian Football Confederation.

On the positive developments to the relations between UAEFA, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, he explained that UAEFA’s relations have always been strong with FIFA and the confederation, noting that the current UAEFA board aims to further strengthen its ties with the two entities, and many agreements were signed with several federations aimed at exchanging expertise and knowledge.

On the UAE’s initiative to help federations in need during the coronavirus pandemic, Al Dhaheri further said, "We have tried to showcase the UAE’s traditional values and the practices of its leadership. Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi launched a medical aid initiative to assist federations in need in Asia and other continents, we offered PCR tests equipment and other tools to several federations, and we are currently working on enlarging the scope of beneficiaries."

Concerning UAEFA’s future strategy, he further said, "Given the major importance of this portfolio, the Committee of Strategy and Investment was formed. It has worked hard recently in identifying future objectives, enabling us to select a specialist group of experts in drafting strategies. We provided it with all necessary information, and we are now in the final phase."

About the postponement of the Asian qualifiers of the World Cup 2022 and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup from March to June, he added, "The entire world is witnessing extraordinary conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. We were ready for the resumption of qualifiers in March. However, some Asian countries are facing many challenges due to closures and travel restrictions. Our team may benefit from this postponement and prepare for the qualifiers in a better way. Moreover, we presented a request to host the seventh group of qualifiers, in light of the country’s capacity to offer a healthy competitive environment, in addition to its distinguished infrastructure," he further added.

Speaking about UAEFA’s current priorities, Al Dhaheri noted the enlargement of teams, the establishment of training centres for athletes, the further support for the first and second divisions, the resumption of beach football competitions, the signing of beneficial partnerships with leading federations, and the successful global representation of the country.

On the subject of the UAE’s Football History Museum, he affirmed, "For nearly a year and a half, we started benefitting from the expertise of the National Archives, under a partnership agreement signed by our organisations. I would like to thank them for the documents they provided and for arranging and classifying them, through a professional action team."

About the return of spectators to football matches, he highlighted the fact that other relevant authorities will make this decision, not UAEFA.

WAM/Esraa Ismail/Rasha Abubaker