DHAHRAN: Visitors to Ithra’s Tanween finale were served a footballing feast as former players Sami Al-Jaber and David Villa were special guests as the FIFA World Cup trophy reached its final stop prior to the showpiece in Qatar.
Arab News sports reporter Khaled Alarafah anchored talks on the importance of collaboration, personal responsibility, and keeping both eyes on the prize at all times.
Alarafah spoke to former Saudi Arabia star Al-Jaber in Arabic; Nazli Berberoglu, the general manager of the 2022 World Cup at Coca-Cola, in English; and Villa, Spain’s former striker, in Spanish.
President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation Yasser Al-Misehal spoke first, highlighting the importance of the sport and its significance.
Al-Jaber said: “I’m happy and proud to be here. The World Cup is important for any player and if he does not recognize it as a big opportunity then he has a limited way of thinking.”
The session featured many stories about football victories and failures, and how the popular sport has inspired generations. The talks were recorded and will be available online at a later date.
Cheers then greeted proceedings as Al-Jaber and Villa threw signed footballs into the crowd.
The World Cup then made its final appearance before the competition as the talks came to their conclusion. The iconic trophy is now set for Qatar where Saudi Arabia’s team is competing at the showpiece, with their first match against Argentina on Nov. 22.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola was organized in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Sport and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
It touched down in Jeddah on Nov. 11 and visited Riyadh before arriving at Dhahran.
A statement said: “The Coca-Cola Company has had a long-standing relationship with FIFA since 1976 and has been an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1978.
“Coca-Cola has advertised at every FIFA World Cup stadium since 1950 and is a long-time supporter of football at all levels.
“This is the fifth time that Coca-Cola and FIFA have come together to bring the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola to the world.”
The iconic Ithra building was lit in Coca-Cola red for the occasion, and the drink was offered to guests in glass flutes as a Saudi band serenaded the crowd at the concluding event of Tanween.