Welcome to our first Weekly Middle East Press Talk where we give you a glimpse of what Arabic & Persian speaking media in the region are talking about over the past week. Stay tuned every Monday for a new update and let us hear your thoughts too!
Saudi FA Chief: Our League Is Only Second To The Premier League in Market Value.
Arriyadiyah newspaper – Saudi Arabia
Ahmed Eid, head of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) stated that the Saudi League, formally known as (Abdul Latif Jamil League) is the second most valuable football league in the world after Barclay’s Premier League. With a market value of € 22 million, only bettered by the English top flight competition’s €50 million.
At Ahdaaf, we are puzzled by what Mr. Eid means here. Based on the figures he used for comparison, our best guess would be that he is talking about the sponsorship deal the league has signed with Saudi conglomerate Abdul Latif Jamil Group to carry its name as opposed to what Eid and the newspaper referred to as “Market Value”. Doing our homework, we could find at least one more league that tops the Saudi League in terms of “Title Sponsorship Deal” albeit slightly. Spain’s Liga BBVA deal is worth around €23.5 Euros. Kudos for the Saudi League for ranking so high on the list, though!
Increased Uncertainty surrounding “Gulf Cup 23”
Raya Newspaper – Qatar
With Iraq having pulled out of hosting the 23rd edition of the Gulf Cup of Nations citing lack of state funding and instead requesting to host the following edition, and with Kuwait undecided over whether to host the tournament or not, great uncertainty surrounds the next edition of the Gulf Cup. Host country is not the only issue, though, Qatar is lined up as third option in case Kuwait confirms it is inability to host the tournament. However, it is hosting the U-22 AFC Asian Cup in January 2016, the date originally set for the Gulf Cup.
Issues continue to surround the Gulf Cup even as it grows in reputation as the region’s number 1 tournament, with more media coverage than the likes of West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship. If the Gulf Cup is to established itself as a genuine competition for decades to come, FIFA recognition is a must. For all its vices, the global body would keep organizing committees under check and that will surely help the Gulf Cup grow in stature.
Ali Mabkhout to leave for Europe in the Summer.
Al-Ittihad Newspaper – UAE
Ayedh Mabkhout, Football Director at Al-Jazira SC confirmed that AFC Asian Cup top goalscorer Ali Mabkhout will remain at the club until summer. “We already agreed with Mabkhout that he will be allowed to leave in the summer” Said the club director. “But only if he receives an offer from a decent European club. We have received offers from Hamburg in Germany and unnamed English club, but it was too close to transfers closing for us to be able to replace him” Added Mabkhout “We have received offers from Saudi Arabia but we believe Al-Jazira is the best club in the region and our goal is for him to find the opportunity he deserves in Europe.”
Too many Mabkhouts at Al-Jazira it’s confusing us! On a more serious note, we salute Al-Jazira and believe that is the right mentality clubs in the region should adopt in regards to local talents. No mention at all of a transfer fee, putting the player’s interests first. It will be interesting to see whether Al-Ain will have a similar approach to Omar Abdulrahman when those offers arrive in the summer (and we know they will).
UAE Already prepared to host AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Al-Bayan Newspaper- UAE
Deputy Secretary General of the UAE Football Association (UAEFA) is optimistic the country will land hosting rights for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“We are prepared to host the tournament even if it was to be held tomorrow” Said Mohammed Bin Hazzam. “The AFC delegation inspected the facilities and they are pleased with our level of readiness. We hosted the Asian Cup in 1996 and we can do it again, we can make it a historic event”.
The UAE bid specifies six stadiums across Dubai, Al-Ain and the capital Abu Dhabi to host the tournament. One stadium in Dubai is yet to be built, but Al-Ahli’s Rashid stadium is lined up as a standby option and it is undergoing renovations now.
This is a golden opportunity for the UAE to host a major football event and the country has every chance to win against an Iranian bid that will be hampered by financial difficulties and probable restrictions in terms of dress codes, ban on alcohol and so forth. Nevertheless, it is vital that the new stadium in Dubai is built in time and to a high standard. For all its merits as a global city, Dubai lacks a world class sporting venue. The fact the one of the two Dubai stadiums included in the Emirati bid is a cricket stadium speaks volumes. Finally organizational issues such as those which accompanied the recent AC Milan vs Real Madrid game in Dubai must be sorted out, the UAEFA can be trusted to do so having successfully hosted 2 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup with great success.
That’s our Press Talk for the week. Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @AhdaafME