Footballing superstars ready to kick off legends tournament in Dubai


As many as 80 footballing superstars from across the world have signed up to take part in a legends tournament, which is set to kick off in Dubai.

The World Football Series is the brainchild of Dubai-based entrepreneur Oweis Zahran, managing director of OWS Capital; and former AC Milan and French player Ibrahim Ba.

Midfielder Ba, who also played in England, Turkey and Sweden in a career that spanned two decades, reeled off the list of stars tentatively confirmed for the event – which has been billed as one of the largest sporting events that the region has ever seen.

This includes French legends Sidney Govou, Ludovic Guily, Christophe Dugarry, Robert Pires, Christian Karembeu, Zinadine Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff; Italian greats Marco Materazzi, Demetrio Albertini, Luigi Di Biagio, Bernardo Corradi and Francesco Totti; as well as an exceptional line-up for an All Stars side, with names such as Luis Figo, Fernando Morientes, Vitor Baía, Javier Zanetti; and Brazilian stars Rivaldo and Ronaldo.

“We’re talking about 70 or 80 players to come,” Ba told Arabian Business. “We’re talking about players who used to play in the early 90s.”

Ba, who has lived in Dubai for almost four years and does scouting work in the region for AC Milan, explained that he has helped run similar tournaments in other parts of the world, particularly Russia and the UK, where the legends from national teams compete in two 20-minute halves in an indoor arena. “There is a lot of intensity to that,” he said.

Zahran told Arabian Business the plans for this region are on a much bigger scale, with the event pencilled in for either December this year or in the first quarter of 2022. He said: “We anticipate these tournament matches having north of 15,000 people in attendance at each and every game and then leading up to the finals, 100,000 possibly watching this game live.

“That being said, we’re very mindful of the venue capacities that are in the region. We’re probably going to have to spread it over a couple of different locations.”

Zahran, who made his name in the automotive industry before launching OWS Capital, inked a joint venture agreement with US celebrity tv host Steve Harvey’s MELT Middle East earlier this year to create MELT-OWSC, which was said at the time would “change the landscape within the celebrity entertainment space in the region”.

He added: “I’m not an automotive businessman, I’m a businessman. I’ve been doing automotive for the last two decades so I’ve been tainted with that. Sure, we have the team to do that, probably one of the best in the world, but personally, I set this up to be able to focus on everything that makes sense and whether that’s economic sense or social sense.

“There’s no specific reason behind it, it just sounds like something fun. And as Sheikh Mohammed says, ‘why not?’”

The event will include football clinics and coaching for kids. Ba said: “Most of the time, in the UAE or in the Middle East, you are not in a position to see all of these players together, unless it’s an event, like a ceremony. But this is something, we believe, that will be open to anyone to come and see.”