Kuwait’s Jaber Al-Ahmad Stadium to see action in star-studded match?
1:02 PM EST, Tue December 15, 2015
Steven Gerrard of the LA Galaxy had been due to appear in the Kuwait Champions Challenge. However as a FIFA-registered player, he would have risk disciplinary action for himself and the English Football Association if he took part.
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Italian veteran Andrea Pirlo, also featuring in the U.S. MLS with New York City, was another FIFA-registered player invited to take part in the exhibition match but was forced to withdraw.
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Three-time European Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti had been asked to coach the international team but pulled out due to a reported conflict. He has been replaced by Fabio Capello, according to the organizers.
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Former Real Madrid and Barcelona star Luis Figo was one of the ex-pros asked to play for the Kuwaiti All-Stars at the reopening of Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium.
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Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho, who is without a club after leaving Fluminense in September 2015, was also due to take part in the exhibition.
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Retired referee Pierluigi Collina had been asked to officiate the match but withdrew due to his position on the UEFA Referees Committee.
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Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait sits on the boards of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee. He is also president of the Olympic Council of Asia. His country, however, is banned from participating in FIFA and Olympic events.
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The state-of-the-art 60,000-seater Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait was completed in 2007, yet has remained mostly shut due to structural concerns.
So far the stadium has hosted just one football match.
The ground was partially modeled on English Premier League club Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.
Forget VIPs -- the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium was built to cater for VVIPs. Its elite seating section, known as the Emir's Box, is modeled on Arsenal's directors' box.
If VVIPs fancy a break from the action at the stadium, then there is also the VVIP guest lounge for dignitaries. Such rooms are typically found in most Gulf airports in the diplomatic entrance.
Parked inside the stadium is a custom-made golf cart delivered from the United States. It was made specially to drive the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and other dignitaries onto the pitch in the event of special occasions. A portrait of the stadium's honoree, the late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, hangs in the background.
The stadium was expected to be ready for permanent use after hosting the Asian Football Confederation Cup final in November 2010, but cracks appeared in the walkway outside of the arena, prompting a number of government investigations.
Special care was taken when designing the arena, with metal bars to separate each row as a security measure. A banner featuring the Kuwait team which qualified for the 1982 World Cup overlooks the pitch.
Despite its lack of use, the stadium has been well maintained and still boasts excellent facilities, including a hydro-therapy swimming pool, complete with a view of the pitch.