Valencia boss praises Saudi Arabia’s vision for sports

Valencia President Anil Murthy during the press conference on Tuesday. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 08 January 2020

Valencia boss praises Saudi Arabia’s vision for sports

  • Murthy hopes to beat Real Madrid and reach the final match of the Spanish Super Cup against the winner of the Barcelona-Atletico Madrid semifinal

JEDDAH: Valencia are hoping to open their own football academy in Saudi Arabia, Anil Murthy, club president, said on Tuesday.

Murthy expressed his admiration for Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), after the prince spoke about his vision for sports and the development of young Saudis during his recent visit in Spain.

“Therefore, it is our duty to reach those young Saudis and hopefully soon we will plan to open our own football academy here in Saudi Arabia and reach those talented Saudi players, in addition to increasing the popularity of Valencia among Saudi fans who are known for their passion for football,” Murthy said.

Murthy was speaking ahead of the Spanish club’s semifinal match against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday at King Abdullah Al-Jawhara International Stadium.

“We do appreciate the great hospitality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since we arrived, and we are really looking forward to playing in front of Saudi fans here,” Murthy said.

Murthy and the Valencia delegation arrived in Jeddah on Monday night.

Since he joined the club a little over two years ago, Valencia’s 46-year-old Singaporean president said that he has been focused on a strategy that prioritizes growth at home and abroad.

Murthy warned that the club needed to remain sustainable in the long-term by working within its “limitations and constraints.”

“We don’t have a lot of money like other clubs to buy the best players in the world but we put our resources in the best place. We invest mostly in young players because we know these players are the future of the club and this is what keeps the club stable. This is our value,” he said.

“We must build a club structure which works and which is sustainable. Not for one season, but for many years to come. That is the ultimate goal.”

“Clubs who only work for the short term often end up suffering because of financial difficulties.”

Of the death threats he received as the president of Valencia, Murthy said: “Yes, it happened but this can happen from criminals and they are a minority. The only way to solve this issue, we expelled the violent from the stadium and things are now OK.”

Murthy hopes to beat Real Madrid and reach the final match of the Spanish Super Cup against the winner of the Barcelona-Atletico Madrid semifinal, and win it with the support of Valencia’s fans in Saudi Arabia.

Prior to his role at Valencia, Murthy was a diplomat with the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specializing in European affairs. He was deputy chief of mission in Paris and concurrently permanent delegate to UNESCO for four years. He has nearly 16 years of experience with the Singapore government, advising ministers on public policies ranging from trade to culture and diplomacy.


Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

Updated 19 January 2020

Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

  • Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions

JEDDAH: Renowned Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras scored all his side’s goals as Amaala hammered out an emphatic 7-3 victory over host team AlUla to win the Kingdom’s first-ever desert polo tournament on Saturday at AlUla UNESCO heritage site.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, presented the trophy to Amaala after the final.

The event forms part of Winter at Tantora festival, featuring international polo players, who had the experience of playing on compacted desert sand instead of grass amid the stunning surroundings at AlUla.

The Royal Commission of AlUla organized the three-day tournament in cooperation with the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation.

In winning the tournament, Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions.

Players from all over the world took part, including team members from the world famous La Dolfina polo outfit from Argentina, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough.

In the match for third place, Al Nahla Bentley defeated Team Richard Mille 4-2 with Sheikha Alya Maktoum scoring a hat trick of goals.

Figueras said: “It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, an amazing heritage and an amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation. I’m very honored to be here and I’m delighted that we were able to win.

“This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

Mac Donough added: “For us it was a completely new place; polo-wise Saudi Arabia wasn’t something we were doing before. Having the chance to come to such an amazing country and having the chance to play a tournament and promote the sport, all this makes us feel very proud and we hope we can continue it.”

Saudi Polo Federation chairman, Amr F. Zedan, who played for Team Richard Mille during the tournament, said: “I see this event as a launching pad for the future. We have big plans for polo in Saudi Arabia that include the establishment of development programs and the construction of facilities to assist in building a polo infrastructure in The Kingdom.”

Amr Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla, said: “Our tourism strategy for AlUla has been built around certain anchors — heritage, culture, nature and arts. Equestrianism has always been a key industry for us, and the surroundings here make AlUla one of the best locations to ride horses.”