The footballing legend joined the Special Olympics Bangladesh team as part of the Host Town program and Unified Sports

13 March 2018, Abu Dhabi: Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona took part in a football match in Fujairah on Tuesday, alongside members of the Special Olympics Bangladesh football team.

The game took place at Fujairah Club Stadium as part of Special Olympics’ Host Town Program, which enables delegations to visit the emirates and experience local culture ahead of the Games. As part of the program the Special Olympics Bangladesh delegation is being hosted in Fujairah and it was their football team that Maradona played with.

The match also tied into Special Olympics’ Unified Sports initiative, which is when athletes with and without intellectual disabilities play together to promote inclusion.

The Host Town program is a vital part of IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi, as it gives the visiting delegations an opportunity to experience the warm hospitality and culture of Emirati life. Combining this with the Unified Sports initiative gave the athletes a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play football with the Argentine legend.


IX MENA Games officially begins this Saturday 17th March with the opening ceremony at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The Games are played across 18, 19 and 20 of March, before the closing ceremony on 22nd.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

More than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries will travel to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which will be the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the Emirati Capital, marking its first debut in the history of the MENA region.

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 8-22, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries. The World Games will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa, the World Games features 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues throughout Abu Dhabi. The spectacular Opening Ceremony on March 14 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics competition in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people with disabilities, and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.