Muscat: An Omani man who had signed an agreement to bring the Real Madrid legends team to Muscat for a match in 2014 has said that the failure of the Spanish club to honour their commitments is the reason he is now seeking more compensation from the courts, after they initially ruled in his favour.
Saeed Al Shabibi, the general manager of Zan for Events and Conferences, in March 2014, organised the Oman Legends Cup, a friendly game that would have been played by famous former players from both Real Madrid and Barcelona in Muscat. At that game, Al Shabibi was also meant to announce the formation of Oman’s first Real Madrid academy.
However, according to him, not only did Real Madrid not bring many of the players they were contractually obliged to, but they went behind his back and signed a partnership deal for their academy with another company, just one day before the match began, after he’d spent OMR2 million of his own money to set up the academy, which almost bankrupted him.
The contract signed by Real Madrid promised a number of world-famous players, including Fabio Cannavaro, Christian Karembeu, Raul, Luis Figo, Fernando Morientes, Fernando Redondo, Roberto Carlos, Emilio Butragueno and Ruud van Nistelrooy. However, none of them turned up, and in retaliation, sponsors and TV broadcasters pulled out of the event, leaving Al Shabibi with massive costs to cover.
Al Shabibi has since approached the courts for compensation, and while he does claim to have received money for the losses he incurred during the match, he has now appealed for more compensation for the money he has put in to fund the academy.
“We could not stop the match because we had already sold the tickets. The consequence was that the television rights agreements were pulled, and the companies and sponsors called me a liar. No one knew these players, only one or two were famous,” added Al Shabibi. “On the March 14, 2014, we would announce the academy, but on 13, they went and signed with someone else. Why did they wait for so long? Because I had paid for all the tickets and accommodation for the people from the academy to come to Muscat and play the match.”
“Maybe they think this is normal here, so we went through the courts and submitted our documents,” he explained. “We already finished the case in the Supreme Court, and we won the case. They gave me an amount of OMR459,000, but I am not happy with that amount. The court gave me this amount in reference to the match agreements, but what about the academies?”
“With the academy, we could have incurred benefits for 10 years,” said Al Shabibi. “What about the land I had rented? We have appealed to the courts again, because the main project for them in Oman was the academy. The match was part of the promotion for the academy. There is a letter from them that says that. We are now waiting for the result, for the court to call the lawyers to go further. Real Madrid have sent someone from their legal department. Real Madrid did not approach me at all. No one at all asked me from their side.”
Al Shabibi had decided to invite Real Madrid to Oman in 2013 to set up an academy in the country. Manuel Parreno of the Real Madrid Foundation came to Muscat with a delegation to see the infrastructure in Oman. They stayed for four days.
“I paid for the whole team to come here, I paid for everything,” he said. “It has been four years that I have been waiting for this day. Judgement has to take place in my country. How can I be punished by my own courts in my country? The main proposal agreed on with Real Madrid would have seen us make a profit of OMR9 million; the total cost of the academy from my side was OMR2 million. Everyone knows what happened. We were about to go bankrupt.”
“It is a big loss. If I had built that academy in 2013, today, I would have gotten very far, because that would have been the first academy in the Middle East,” revealed Al Shabibi. “The biggest impact for us was when Real Madrid signed the agreement for their academy one day before the match. That is why we got upset, they did not fulfill the contract with the game, and they signed a deal with a third-party company, so we got nothing at all.”
“This would have been the first Real Madrid academy in the GCC,” said Al Shabibi. “They told me their standards and specifications to build the academy, and we agreed that we would build the academy on 8,000 square metres of land, containing stadiums, swimming pools, coffee shops, it was a complete compound. The official team came to Muscat in October 2013, and the vice president Emilio Butragueno was here, with Manuel Parreno and the head of coaches Ruben de la Red, and the coordinator of the international department Rayco Garcia.”
On December 2, 2013, Al Shabibi signed the contract for the match at the Spanish Embassy, along with the Ambassador, and held a press conference announcing the same. He then began undertaking the work required to host the match, including selling 27,000 seats at Sultan Qaboos Stadium, as well as referees and sponsorship.
“Along with them, the Undersecretary of the Spanish Ambassador also came,” he added. “We met them, we talked to them, and while negotiating the academic project, Emilio said to me that they could bring the legends team to Muscat to play here, and it would be an advertisement for the academy, and they could announce the academy on the match day. We calculated it, and it seemed good. Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2013 were the best teams in the world.”
“We were happy because we got support from the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Tourism, a lot of companies offered sponsorships, we got the television rights from a Kuwaiti company that bought the rights for US$1.3 million, and then we were working towards this,” he explained. “Everything was moving nicely. But four days before the match, we were shocked, because the players that came for the match were not the same that were agreed in the contract. Real Madrid had nine names that did not show up.”