Football fans in the UAE welcomed a special guest this weekend, thanks to the UEFA Champions League Experience.
The soon-to-be-opened retail and dining concept at Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, hosted the official UEFA Champions League Trophy from May 1-2, the first time ever that the highest form of silverware in European club football has visited the country.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for lovers of the ‘beautiful game’ to see the greatest trophy in European club football live and in the flesh. It is an honour to host the UEFA Champions League trophy during its inaugural visit to the UAE and to give the thousands of passionate football fans the chance to see it in all its glory,” said Khaled Almheiri, vice-chairman and managing director of Marka PJSC, the organisation responsible for bringing the UEFA Champions League Experience to the UAE.
Among the activities that accompanied the UEFA Champions League Trophy were breathtaking demonstrations of ‘ball juggling’ on a special stage from two of the world’s top football freestylers. John Farnworth has won both World and European Titles and is the current holder of five World Records, while Andrew Henderson is the current World Champion, holding three World Champion and five UK Champion titles.
The incredible tricks and acrobatic ball control skills of the impressive duo were accompanied by a commentary from renowned sports radio host, Haitham Obaid. Surprise flash mob events also took place during the event, with fans attending having their photos taken next to the trophy as permanent mementos of the occasion.
Scheduled to open in early June 2015, the store will feature a casual dining restaurant where patrons can enjoy signature dishes served in a stadium-inspired setting designed to replicate the atmosphere of the UEFA Champions League, whilst watching live matches as well as highlights and archive footage on giant screens.
Fans visiting the 17,000-square-foot UEFA Champions League Experience will be able to buy merchandise from all the top European football teams. Memorabilia signed by football legends such as Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard and Cristiano Ronaldo will be on display – as well as available for purchase – and there will be a museum where football devotees can learn more about their favourite teams and players.
“There could be no better way to announce the launch of the UEFA Champions League Experience than by hosting the most coveted prize in European club football, the UEFA Champions League Trophy, for its first ever visit to the UAE,” said Nick Peel, CEO of Marka.
“The ةall is packing in crowds of football fans who are taking the opportunity of having their photo taken with the Cup and enjoying the incredible freestyling skills that are on display – we are delighted to be giving a taste of what’s in store with our new UEFA Champions League Experience that opens next month,” he added.