Yemeni Messi victim of political clashes
Malek Al-Shuaibi, 10, a promising young Yemeni footballer who was branded “Messi of the Arab World” at the 20th Gulf Football Championship hosted in November 2010 in Aden, is facing an uncertain future due to Yemen’s political crisis.
Al-Shuaibi is still awaiting an opportunity to fly to Spain to improve his football skills after Moammar Al-Eryani, the Yemeni Minister of Youth and Sport, pledged to facilitate the trip.
Al-Shuaibi's father said the care and attention of Minister Al-Eryani boosted the morale of all members of the family.
But after losing their home during last year's clashes that broke out in Al-Hasaba area, the Al-Shuaibi family has been forced to leave Sana'a, moving to the countryside in Dhale'a.
A representative of the family told the Yemen Times that a thief recently broke into their house and stole all the furniture purchased with the money Al-Shuaibi received as a reward for his participation in the inauguration ceremony of the 2010 Gulf Championship.
During the tournament, millions in Yemen and from around the Arab world watched in awe as Al-Shuaibi displayed his natural gifts on the field.
At that time, Al-Shuaibi was very happy with the media attention lavished on him. Journalists revealed his talent to people worldwide and sports analysts predicted a bright future for him.
Presidential orders were even issued at the tournament to take Al-Shuaibi to Spain to join a club in FC Barcelona to improve his skills and fulfill his ambition to be a famous footballer like Lionel Messi, an FC Barcelona player in Spain.
Soon after the Gulf Championship, however, political clashes erupted across Yemen, upending the central government and sidelining government promises to Al-Shuaibi.
Now, while transitional government is tackling a host of new and urgent crises, the “Messi of the Arab World” continues to wait for his opportunity to represent Yemen on the world stage.