KUWAIT CITY, January 5, 2018 - The curtains will fall today on the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup, held in Kuwait between December 22nd 2017 and January 5th 2018 with the final game between Oman and United Arab Emirates. And despite having just ten days to prepare for the tournament, Kuwait managed to deliver a successful event on all levels with the presence of a record of 3450 accredited by media department, including 800 journalists, from over 50 countries representing 36 channels and 211 newspapers.
The Gulf Cup was scheduled to take place in Qatar but was clouded in uncertainty because Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain refused to send their teams to Qatar due to the crisis between the Gulf countries. But when FIFA lifted the two-years ban on Kuwait on December 6, Qatar offered its neighbors the opportunity to host the prestigious regional tournament.
It was in 2015 when FIFA decided to ban Kuwait from regional, continental and international football due to the government intervention in the work of the football associations of the country.
Sattam Alsahli, AIPS Asia president and Head of the tournament’s Media Committee spoke to AIPS about the importance of hosting such an event.
He said: “It is hard to prepare for a game in ten days, let alone a whole tournament, the challenge was big but with the support of Prince Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah we managed to host a successful tournament with the cooperation of the organizing committee. A record of 800 journalists attended the tournament which we consider a huge success.”
“We faced some problems in selling TV sponsorship rights at the beginning, this is a matter that takes time and we had less than two weeks to manage it, but eventually we solved it. We also had some difficulties in issuing accreditations due to the fact that some journalists applied just few days before the tournament.”
Over 60 000 fans attended the host nation opening game with Saudi Arabia and second game against Oman at Jaber Al Ahmad International stadium where families were present in high numbers at the stadium.
“This a proof of how much Kuwaiti people love football and that the ban was unfair to them. The success of the tournament on all levels showcases that Kuwait is a nation that breath football.” Alsahli explained.
Taha Atwan Taha from the Media Committee added: “It was so important for everyone. The fans were thirsty, Kuwait made it to the World Cup in 1982 and won a record of 10 Gulf Cup titles. They do not love only football, but sports in general. The ban had a very negative impact so this tournament was the salvation, and even with just ten days for preparations, the facilities were high level and 60 000 people attended the opening ceremony.”
Jaleel Al Aboudi, a journalist at Al Watan Qatari newspaper, was one of journalists who witnessed what the country has done in just few days.
He told AIPS: “They hosted the tournament in exceptional circumstances and in a short period of time, but they were keen to make it successful. The facilities were great at the media centers, the stadiums and media tribunes.”