Middle East, 28 October 2018: Continental, the premium tyre and automotive manufacturer, in partnership with Emirates Red Crescent and Emirati football star Abdullah Saleh Al Junaibi, today announced that a select number of underprivileged children from across the United Arab Emirates will be offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to escort Asia’s top football stars onto the pitch as official mascots at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (5 January to 1 February 2019).
The highlight of this special campaign will see 22 youngsters participate at the Final itself, to be held at Zayed Sports City Stadium on 1 February 2019. Further lucky winners will act as mascots at three first round matches featuring the national teams of the Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar. A total of 88 boys and girls will be split among the four designated matches where they will walk out hand-in-hand with some of Asia’s leading players.
A shortlist of 200 names will be compiled by the Emirates Red Crescent from a list of families in the UAE who are registered with them for support. This shortlist will then be narrowed down to the final 88, all of whom will be aged between six and nine years old, at an exclusive knockout event hosted by football star Abdullah Saleh Al Junaibi in November.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at Emirates Red Crescent’s Headquarters in Dubai, and attended by key officials including Abdullah Al Haj Al Zarooni, Director of the Emirates Red Crescent - Dubai branch and Jose Luis de la Fuente, Managing Director of Continental Middle East. Al Wasl FC footballer, Abdullah Saleh Al Junaibi was also present at the press conference and will participate in selecting the children for the tournament. Faisal Khalil, the retired Emirati football superstar was also in attendance to offer his support for the campaign.
Jose Luis de la Fuente, Managing Director at Continental Middle East, commented: “Continental has been involved with the world's leading football events for many years, and as we get ready to embrace the upcoming AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 we wanted to use our involvement to offer unique experiences to young football fans for whom such tournaments are so special. To commemorate the ‘Year of Zayed’ we felt it would be appropriate to do this via a nationwide campaign that will provide a truly unforgettable experience for underprivileged children in the UAE. For this, I’d like to thank both Emirates Red Crescent and Abdullah Saleh Al Junaibi for all their support.”
Mohammed Al Zarooni, General Manager of Emirates Red Crescent – Dubai Branch, said: “We were delighted when Continental came to us and asked us to be a part of this fantastic initiative. Football is a great way to spread happiness among children, and this is particularly important for the youngsters who we work with and support and who don’t have access to the same opportunities and lifestyles that most of us enjoy.”
Speaking about the campaign, Abdullah Saleh Al Junaibi said: “I am honoured to be part of such a worthy initiative. This is my community and I remember when I was a child how excited and proud I was watching my national team. I can imagine how thrilling it will be for these deserving children to walk out alongside the region’s top football stars in front of thousands of cheering fans at the stadium and millions more watching at home on TV.”
In addition to being the Official Sponsor of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, Continental has been associated with football for many years, with its first foray into the field in the early 1990s. The brand’s involvement with supporting football tournaments and teams has included the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League (1995-2000), the UEFA European Championship (2008, 2012 and 2016) and Major League Soccer in the United States and Canada. It also sponsored both the 15th and 16th editions of the AFC Asian Football Cups in 2011 and 2015 which were hosted in Qatar and Australia respectively.