ABU DHABI, 16 February (BelTA - Emirates News Agensy). - FIFA president Gianni Infantino has praised Abu Dhabi for the "fantastic" hosting of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021, which took place between 3rd and 12th February, 2022, at the Mohammed Bin Zayed and Al Nahyan stadiums.
The 18th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, and the fifth taking place on UAE soil since 2009, came to a thrilling conclusion last Saturday night, as English side Chelsea became world champions for the first time by beating Brazilian outfit Palmeiras 2-1 in extra-time.
The dramatic showpiece that saw Chelsea's Kai Havertz score the winner was played out in front of 32,871 fans at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium. It made for a fitting finale after 10 thrilling days of football in the UAE capital, which saw more than 135,000 fans from across the world attend the tournament's eight matches.
Hailing the UAE for delivering a hugely successful event, Infantino said, "I think that it has been a fantastic event here in Abu Dhabi. There has been great organisation and we have loved Abu Dhabi for many years already, so I must thank Abu Dhabi Sports Council. We have seen exciting matches, fantastic fans coming from all over the world, from Brazil, from Egypt, from Saudi Arabia, the teams have given their maximum, the conditions are perfect, the weather is fantastic, the stadiums are beautiful, we love it!"
He added, "I have witnessed the health protocols being respected and adhered to in accordance to the legislation of the country and everything went smoothly. From the teams to the referees to the officials, the whole tournament organisation was done putting health first, while respecting the teams and the football as well."
Legendary manager Arsene Wenger, who is now FIFA's chief of global football development, joined Infantino in praising Abu Dhabi's efforts during the tournament. The Frenchman said, "I spent the week here and it was a very enjoyable week. Abu Dhabi is a nice city; people are very friendly and overall, I would say the competition has been well organised. I have seen that Arab football is developing and the fans have been amazing. The atmosphere inside the stadium has been great. It is good to see."
Supporters travelled from all over the world to enjoy the competition and its host city, with more than 5,800 hotel rooms booked up for the tournament by travellers to the UAE capital alone. Those who attended FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021 fixtures flocked to the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium's Fan Experience Area that welcomed 25,000+ supporters who enjoyed exciting games and interactive features which included taking pictures with the prestigious trophy and meeting the official mascot Dhabi.
Meanwhile, the Mobile Roadshow was activated to a total of 8,290 participants across all 14 of its locations including popular shopping centres across the country and Expo 2020's Dubai Sports Arena.
With more than 100,000 accreditation applications made, over 800 guests welcomed by FIFA and the Local Organising Committee to the two stadiums, FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021 tickets were the hottest in town.
There were strict COVID-19 measures in place at both venues to ensure a safe environment during the tournament, in alignment with the set health and safety protocol. To help deliver that, there were 1,750+ team members working on the tournament, 1,300 staff working at each match day, 750 volunteers and 64 medical experts deployed at every game.
African football legend Didier Drogba, who was at the final to see his old club Chelsea prevail over Palmeiras, added, "You just have to see what is happening tonight to see why Abu Dhabi is the destination for sports. When you see that this tournament has been played at different stadiums and you see the quality of the people, the way that they welcome everyone, I am super happy. The COVID-19 measures were very organised, which made it easy to enter the stadium."
The FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021 was broadcast to 107 countries in territories all over the world, while FIFA's digital coverage delivered over four million impressions, 804,000+ clicks on content and over 20 million videos views.
John Cross, chief football writer at the British newspaper Daily Mirror, shared his experience covering the tournament in Abu Dhabi, "It was really well organised, you can see a passion for sport in the city and how much people love football. It ran very smoothly."
As well as seeing 24 goals across the eight fixtures between the globe's continental kings, history was made with the continued trialling of semi-automated offside technology (SAOT). The Video Assistant Referees (VAR) provided even faster access to the latest technology. The SAOT displayed 3D animations on the stadium big screen and television broadcasts giving spectators greater insight into offside decisions.