FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Portugal’s Euro 2016-winning head coach Fernando Santos and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah are just some of the stellar names who will feature at next week’s 11th Dubai International Sports Conference.
The annual event has become a key date in the Middle East’s footballing calendar, attracting eminent figures for more than a decade. This tradition is set to continue at Madinat Jumeirah from December 27-28, with the first night also featuring the seventh edition of the glittering Globe Soccer Awards.
A lengthy list of attendees and speakers was revealed on Monday by Dubai Sports Council. These further included luminaries such as Barcelona legend Samuel Eto’o, ex-Juventus and England boss Fabio Capello, Inter Milan icon Javier Zanetti, Paris Saint-Germain supremo Unai Emery and UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina.
“Organising events like this puts Dubai on the map,” said ex-West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Sevilla striker Freddie Kanoute, who works with DSC on several projects. “Everybody wants to come here because of the great events it holds.
“With all these big stars announced, it’s good for Dubai to enjoy their presence. I’ve played against many of these names, including Samuel Eto’o. It will be great to see him in a few days.
“He’s respected across Africa; I played for Mali, he played for Cameroon. But he’s won more than me, unfortunately.
“I have a good relationship with Dubai Sports Council and we are working together on many projects for the good of football development in the region, especially in Dubai.
“With this conference, we aren’t just seeing football from a player’s perspective but also from the perspective of coaches and referees as a whole to try and promote all the work involved in football. This shows it is not just about what happens on the field, but also what happens off it to allow you to enjoy the beautiful game.”
The GSA nominees from 11 categories have been steadily announced this week.
The previous two winners of the Best Player of the Year gong, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, will face competition from the likes of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy in 2016.
The theme for the Conference is ‘Governance in Modern Football’. The illustrious list of guests will impart vast knowledge, with the aim of exposing the Gulf’s clubs and administrators to the best practices.
There are three talks per day planned. Next Tuesday will see Roma CEO Umberto Gandini and Legia Warsaw Dariusz Mioduski discuss ‘Leaders & Managers’, while the ‘Professional Football Associations’ session will include Italian Football Federation president Carlo Tavecchio, Portuguese Football Federation president Fernando Gomes and UAE Football Association president Marwan bin Ghalita.
Also on Tuesday will be the ‘FIFA Video Assistant Referees Case Study’ session, which will be led by Collina, Mark Clattenburg, Nicola Rizzoli and Ali Hamad.
Emery, Capello and Santos start the final day on Wednesday with ‘Coaches Session – the Role of Coaches for Football Integrity’.
Salah, Eto’o and Zanetti will then take to the stage for the ‘Players Session – Successful Requirements for Professional Players’, with the concluding ‘International Football Governance – The Importance of Governance in the Success of International and Continental Football Bodies’, featuring Infantino – in the first address of an acting FIFA president in DISC history – and CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani.