: Two Argentinian football legends joined forces today to highlight the positive role that football can have in society and the unique power it can have in uniting fans and communities around the world.
In a display of solidarity and sportsmanship ahead of next month’s FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018, FIFA Legends Hernan Crespo – a former River Plate star - and former Boca Juniors icon Nicolas Burdisso came together at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium - one of the two host cities for the forthcoming FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 - in a symbolic moment of friendship to highlight how football can bring people together, as well as underlining how football can be used as a positive and unifying platform in today’s society.
The players, whose overlapping international careers saw them line-up for the same Argentinian national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, came together to stress that while healthy rivalries are good for football, the security and well-being of all those involved – players, officials and fans - must always prevail.
“Great rivalries between clubs and fans are part of the reason why football is so special to so many people around the world. Just imagine, though, if people used the emotion that they have for football in a positive way, to help shape society. The potential to inspire positive social change through football is just incredible.” said former Argentina striker and FIFA Legend Hernan Crespo, who started his career at River Plate.
With a club career encompassing some of world football’s biggest rivalries, including playing the Milan, Rome and London derbies, the former Lazio, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Chelsea goal-machine added: “Football is unique – it has a special power to unite and bring people together. Argentina has such a proud footballing history and when their fans arrive in the UAE, they will demonstrate the true spirit of Argentina and its people: passionate, warm, friendly and open.”
Burdisso has also experienced the atmosphere of many footballing derbies in Argentina and Europe, having played for Inter Milan and Torino in Italy.
“Football fans in Argentina are some of the most passionate fans in the world. I have full trust and confidence in them, as well as FIFA and the UAE, that they will make the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 a safe and truly spectacular event,” said Burdisso, an all-action defender who spent five years with Boca Juniors at the start of his career.
Tournament officials echoed the sentiments of the two FIFA Legends and promised the 11-day UAE tournament will showcase football as a game that unites different cultures and backgrounds - much like the host nation, UAE.
“We commend Hernan Crespo and Nicolas Burdisso for setting an example of the true spirit of football,” said Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Marketing and Communication Director, Local Organising Committee, FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018. “The UAE has a proud tradition of hospitality and we are pleased to be hosting the FIFA Club World Cup, a tournament that demonstrates our shared values of friendship, integrity, openness, tolerance and respect.
The winner of the Copa Libertadores will confirm CONMEBOL’s representative for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018, which brings together six continental club champions and host team Al Ain FC for eight competitive matches across Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium and Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City stadium.
The winners of the Copa Libertadores final will enter tournament at the semi-final stage, where the state-of-the-art Al Ain arena will host the South American champion’s fixture against either Esperance Sportive de Tunis, representing Africa or the winner of the match between host team Al Ain FC and OFC Champions League winners Team Wellington FC of New Zealand.
The other confirmed qualifiers for the tournament include: CONCACAF champions CD Guadalajara, AFC Champions Kashima Antlers of Japan and UEFA Champions League winners and defending champions Real Madrid CF.
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