FIFA hails Dubai beach soccer tournament’s impact

Published October 6th, 2016 - 01:48 GMT
Saeed Hareb (second left) and Joan Cusco (second right) are joined by Ali Omar (extreme left) and Alex Soriano at the official draw ceremony for the Intercontinental Cup Dubai. (Photo: Dubai Sports Council)
Saeed Hareb (second left) and Joan Cusco (second right) are joined by Ali Omar (extreme left) and Alex Soriano at the official draw ceremony for the Intercontinental Cup Dubai. (Photo: Dubai Sports Council)

The world governing body for beach soccer has hailed the rising importance and influence of the annual Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup Dubai.

The sixth edition of the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup Dubai will be held at an especially laid-out beach soccer ground at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) from November 1-5.

The official draw for the competition was conducted by Alex Soriano, Tournament Director, in the presence of Joan Cusco, Executive Vice-President, Fifa Beach Soccer Worldwide, and Saeed Hareb, General Secretary, Dubai Sports Council (DSC).

First launched in 2011 with sponsorship from electronics giant Samsung to reward the best eight teams from across the world, the annual competition has grown in stature in the past five years with Russia crowned champions on three occasions — in 2011 and 2012 and last year when they defeated Tahiti 5-2 in the final.

“All people involved in beach soccer love this event. The 2012 final between Russia and Brazil [won 7-4 by the European champions] broke all television records despite it being a weekend of Formula One racing. This year, we have some non-participating teams such as Switzerland, Hungary and Japan especially coming to Dubai well in advance as they are getting this opportunity to play against the best eight teams from around the world,” Cusco told media at the official draw on Tuesday.

“This shows the importance of the tournament on the annual beach soccer calendar. This also shows the growth of the event with each passing year. We need to build on this further,” he added.

Global giants Brazil, who have won this trophy just once after beating Russia 3-2 in extra-time in the 2014 final, are scheduled to land early in Dubai to conduct an acclimatisation camp here. “This just shows how important this event is for all beach soccer playing countries. The president of the Switzerland Football Association has even requested us to increase the number of teams to 16. But we cannot do this as we want this competition to be only for the best eight teams,” Cusco said.

Hareb put the beach soccer tournament as one of the marquee events conducted by Dubai Sports Council each year. “The focus definitely is to keep on improving and marking Dubai as the sporting capital. Our leaders want us to portray Dubai and the UAE as the number one destination in all fields. And what we do in beach soccer is something similar,” Hareb noted.

Meanwhile the hosts, ranked 13th in the world, have been put in Group A alongside 2015 runners-up Tahiti, four-time Beach Soccer World Cup winners Brazil and Poland — who recently sprung a surprise by qualifying for next year’s World Cup in the Bahamas. Group B consists of defending three-time champions Russia along with the USA, 2013 champions Iran and Egypt, who went down to Iran in the fight for third place last year.

Entry for all matches on all five days will be absolutely free for the general public when the preliminary rounds of the competition kicks off on November 1. The playing schedule will be released by the organisers at a later date.

GROUPS

Group A: UAE, Tahiti, Brazil, Poland

Group B: Russia, USA, Egypt, Iran.


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