Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has confirmed that the club are still hoping to bring an extravagant theme park to the UAE with Abu Dhabi their preferred home.
Perez's comments come on the same day that rumours circulated in Spain that the club had agreed to sell the naming rights of the Santiago Bernabeu to International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), which is owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family.
Madrid paper Marca reported that the new stadium will be called Abu Dhabi Santiago Bernabeu at a cost of €450m and €500m (Dh2.1bn-Dh2.4bn) to IPIC over 20 years once the stadium is redeveloped.
Speaking about Madrid's general assembly, Perez said: "We're getting there. There has never been any economic cost to us. But instead of doing it in a small Emirate, we're trying to do it in a location in Abu Dhabi.
"We are continuing to advance plans for a theme park where the experience of living Real Madrid will be unique."
Last week the club had further strenghtened their bond with the UAE by announcing the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) as their official banking partner.
Plans for the $1billion "Real Madrid Resort Island" project were first revealed in March 2012 with the massive development planned to be built in Ras-al Khaimah but were shelved last year.
Initial plans outlined for the island envisaged a multi-purpose leisure, retail and sport facility, built on a site of 50 hectares.
The intended centre piece of the resort was a 10,000 capacity all-seater stadium on the shores of the sea, with an amusement park, yacht club, marina and a Real Madrid museum.
Accommodation would be provided by a 450-room hotel, with a variety of restaurants and cafes also on site.
It is believed that the new plans intend to replicate the style of Abu Dhabi's Ferrari World theme park.
Female football teams still have time to sign up for a top tournament before Tuesday’s registration deadline.
Organised by E-Sports, the Ladies International Football Tournament, to be held on Friday, September 26, will be the second edition of the seven-a-side competition.
Eight teams are already confirmed, including last year’s winners Abu Dhabi Country Club, represented by some UAE national players.
Taking place at Gems American Academy in Khalifa City A in Abu Dhabi, the format of the tournament is a group stage followed by knockouts. The number of teams to advance to the next round will depend on the number of sides taking part.
Each match, to be played on astro-turf pitches, will run straight for 20 minutes with no half-time whistle.
If the match finishes in a tie during regulation time, the outcome will be decided in a penalty shootout.
With it being a seven-a-side match, rules will be different to the traditional 11-a-side format. Among the rules implemented by E-Sports are unlimited rolling substitutes, goalkeeper only permitted to release the ball by foot, as well as no off-sides; which is good news if you’re a striker and looking to score plenty of goals on the day.
Following the success of its first edition which saw an excellent standard of play, E-Sports are calling for more teams to sign up for what will be a fun and exciting competition.
Kaye Smith, the company’s sports development manager, said: “The competition is open to all teams regardless of your playing ability.
“There are some teams who are semi-professional as well as a mixture of amateur sides.”
The aim of the tournament is simple: E-Sports are keen to promote women’s football.
Smith added: “The ability factor doesn’t matter because we just want to grow women’s football in the UAE and in the region.
“E-Sports are inviting female teams to sign up because there’s a good interest in women’s football in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and we want to maintain that.”
Entry fee is Dh1,000 per team with a maximum of 10 players in a squad.
What: Ladies International Football Tournament
Where: Gems American Academy in Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi
When: Friday, September 26 from 10:00.
Contact: Registration and more information contact [email protected] or phone 056 314 4939.
The United Arab Emirates will call the Gold Coast home as they prepare for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
Swapping one sunny climate for another, the UAE should feel right at home as they set up their pre-competition camp at the height of a Queensland summer.
UAE becomes the first team to base itself in the Sunshine State and the fifth to secure a pre-competition training site, joining Qatar (Canberra), Bahrain (Ballarat), China (Campbelltown) and Jordan (Melbourne).
The Emirates team will be based at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast from December 23, allowing more than two weeks to prepare for Asia’s premier tournament and the biggest football event ever held in Australia.
Michael Brown, CEO of the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee, said the UAE’s decision was a huge boost for the Gold Coast.
“I’m sure the Emirates players, management and team delegation will receive an enthusiastic reception, and that the people of the Gold Coast will reach out and adopt the UAE team.
“With less than four months to go until kick-off, this is a timely reminder of how close we are to the first Asian Cup on Australian soil.”
UAE will play its first two matches in Canberra – against Qatar on January 11 and Bahrain on January 15 – before completing its group matches in Brisbane against former champions Iran on January 19.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he was delighted at securing the UAE team for the training camp.
“As part of our inaugural sports plan, we’re striving to become a world leader in sports training destinations and this announcement is another step in the right direction.
“Not only is the presence of an overseas sporting team beneficial to the local economy, it’s also a huge plus in promoting the city to potential visitors from that country,” he said.
“Since March this year, the sports training camps we’ve attracted have brought more than $3.6 million into the city. I look forward to welcoming the UAE team here in December.”
The AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition and was established in 1956.
The 16 nations to qualify for AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Palestine.
The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities which the Socceroos will kick off against Kuwait on January 9, 2015, in Melbourne, with the final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on January 31, 2015.