As football fans eagerly await the start of Spain’s La Liga season next month, Real Madrid star Karim Benzema is giving local enthusiasts an unexpected treat with a visit to the UAE. In town to receive a special medal from the Dubai Sports Council, Benzema met with the Council’s vice president His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer yesterday, August 26 in recognition of the famous footballer’s support of the nation’s “Be Fit, Be Safe” initiative. The Algerian-French striker was previously seen encouraging “all his friends in the UAE” to “continue to help each other” and “stay safe” during this difficult time in a video message he recorded last May. Now, the Algerian-French striker is being awarded the First Line of Defence Medal for his “efforts to protect society through the practice of sport”, wrote the Dubai Sports Council.
Engraved with Benzema’s name and his jersey number alongside etches of various frontline heroes, the medal symbolizes the significant impact the three-time French Player of the Year had during the UAE’s stay-at-home period of the pandemic with his advice to follow health and safety guidelines established by the government, especially while playing sports. With the reopening of sporting activities across the city once again, the Council presented this award to mark not only Benzema’s participation in the nationwide safety awareness and fitness motivation campaign but also the country’s strengthened relationship with the acclaimed athlete. As a return token of appreciation, Benzema gifted Al Tayer and secretary general of the Council His Excellency Saeed Hareb a signed jersey in honor of the distinguished role the Council plays in promoting athleticism at an international level.
His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Vice President of the Dubai Sports Council, meets the French player Karim Benzema, the star of Real Madrid, and praises his participation in the efforts to protect society through the practice of sport, pic.twitter.com/Rfc2fs8hM9
— Dubai Sports Council (@DubaiSC) August 26, 2020
The former Vogue Man Arabia cover star has a long-standing history with the emirates, often visiting Dubai for personal holidays and momentous occasions, such as his birthday last year. During the meeting yesterday, Benzema reiterated his happiness at returning to a city he holds “very close to his heart”, reported Gulf Today, in large part due to the welcoming nature of the multi-cultural and sports-oriented community that resides here. With future plans to invest in local football academies and other sports programs across the emirate, this is surely not the last we will see of Benzema.