Arabian Gulf Football Federation set for historic opening ceremony

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Yousuf Al Serkal.

A historic day in Middle Eastern sport will occur next month when the Arabian Gulf Football Federation (AGFF) is inaugurated.

Agreement was reached about the launch of the regional body on Wednesday during a general conference between the heads of the football associations from the six Gulf Cooperation Council members – including UAE FA president Yousuf Al Serkal – plus Iraq and Yemen.

The signing ceremony on May 21 in Doha will mark the AGFF’s revolutionary incorporation. The organisation will streamline the running of both club and international competitions in the Gulf, manage the commercialisation of media and sponsorship rights as well as promote unity between the nations.

“The meeting of the heads of the unions in Doha is one of the most important meetings to take place in the region,” said HE Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, president of Qatar Football Association. “A lot of decisions will be made that that will help make the transition to professionalism of tournaments in the Arabian Gulf and increase publicity.”

The opening general assembly will see a vote made to decide the leader of the new organisation, whose headquarters will be based in the Qatari capital.

Other key decisions were made at this week’s general conference.

Changes to tournaments in the region will see the Gulf Cup renamed as the Gulf Nations Cup from 2017 and it will be held every two years.

The UAE have lifted the trophy in 2007 and 2013, finishing third in 2014’s previous edition.

A Gulf Champions’ Cup and Gulf Cup Winners’ Cup are set to be held on an annual basis during pre-season, provincially being booked in for each August from next year. These will feature the league and cup winners from each of the eight countries, from 2017.

The UAE entrants will be the Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup champions.

AGFF Ltd. – AGFF’s fully-owned marketing arm – will distribute all of the worldwide, exclusive commercial  rights of their various competitions

The UAE have been given a month to wait before a final call is made on whether they can host both the Asian Cup and 25th Gulf Nations Cup during 2019.

The Emirates have insisted they can hold the 24-team continental competition in January of that year, as well as putting on the eight-team regional event in December.

Qatar has been confirmed as the host of the 24th Gulf Nations Cup in December 2017, which will be the first held under the AGFF’s jurisdiction.

A decision earlier in the week to give Kuwait more time to show whether they can stage the much-delayed 23rdrunning this December was ratified.

Political ructions in the latter-mentioned country during last summer about infrastructure saw the tournament cancelled from its original December 2015 running date, with FIFA’s later suspension of the country’s FA in October 2015 meaning the event was given to Qatar in the interim.

The conference will meet again during the first week of June to discuss Kuwait’s involvement. This debate will centre on the outcome of next month’s meeting of the FIFA Congress about the ban, with a subsequent inspection of facilities set to follow.

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UAE ready to host Asian and Gulf Cup in 2019

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Man with a plan: Mohammed Hazzam.

Discussions about the scheduling of football tournaments in the Middle East during the next three years are currently being held in Doha, Qatar. The meeting between the general secretaries of the seven competing nations in the latter-mentioned tournament has centred on where and when the next three runnings are to take place.

The Emirates are certain to host the 25th running, but questions have centred on whether this can be done in the same year as January 2019’s, 24-team Asian Cup. Al Dhaheri was convinced the tight calendar would not be a barrier.

He said: “The UAE will be more than ready to embrace the Gulf Cup in the same year as the 2019 Asian Cup, which will see 24 teams participating for the first time. The UAE Football Association is always ready to support the Gulf Cup.”

The 25th Gulf Cup would probably be held in December 2019.

A decision is set to be made about the matter Tuesday or Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Kuwait have been given a fresh chance to prove they can host this year’s much-debated Gulf Cup.

Political ructions in Kuwait during last summer about infrastructure saw the tournament cancelled from its original December 2015 running date, with FIFA’s later suspension of the country’s FA in October 2015 meaning the event was given to Qatar in the interim.

The general secretaries have now all agreed to give Kuwait a fresh opportunity, pending next month’s meeting of the FIFA Congress about the ban and a subsequent inspection of facilities.

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Cleveland Clinic lift Play for Life football trophy

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Winners: Cleveland.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi were crowned champions of the ninth Play for Life football tournament at Zayed Sports City stadium.

The five-day corporate tournament saw 12 teams participate, but after four days of action, it boiled down to a final fight between Cleveland Clinic and ActiveLife by Daman.

The final turned out to be a tense affair, ending goalless after extra time. Cleveland Clinic then won 2-0 after a penalty shootout.

Cleveland Clinic needed penalties to see off ADNEC in their last eight encounter, but then booked their ticket for the final with a comfortable 3-0 semi-final win over HAAD.

Activelife by Daman brushed aside ARWA 5-2 in their quarters before edging past Dolphin Energy in the semi final.

HAAD overcame Dolphin Energy to claim third place.

Mohammed Salah from ActiveLife by Daman was adjudged Player of the Tournament, while Khalid Mohsen from Dolphin Energy was the Top Goal Scorer.

Salih Mirasyedi from Cleveland Clinic was the Best Goalkeeper.

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