All eyes of UAE football fans will be on Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Monday, August 16, at 8 pm as the UAE Pro League celebrates the stars of the 2020-2021 season at the highly anticipated UAE Pro League Awards Ceremony.
This year's event marks the 8th edition of the gala, which was introduced at the end of the 2012-2013 season to honor the stars of each season, as well as the sponsors, partners, and media organizations. The inaugural ceremony was held in May 2013 at the ADNEC Exhibition Center in Abu Dhabi and has since grown to become a traditional season-ending celebration that was held at the end of every season, except for the canceled 2019-2020 season.
The inaugural ceremony included 9 different award categories: Emirati Player of the Year, Foreign Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Top scorer of the Year, Fantasy Football Manager of the Year, Professional Club of the Year, and the Fans’ Player of the Year. The awards increased to 10 categories in the second edition, which was held at the end of the 2013-2014 season.
The 2020-2021 season awards will see Abdullah Ramadan, Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira), and Fabio Lima (Al Wasl) compete for the Golden Ball Award for the best Emirati player. Competition for the Golden Ball Award for the best foreign player is now down to the final three; Joao Pedro (Bani Yas), Ryan Mendes (Al Nasr), and Thulani Serero (Al Jazira).
The three-man shortlist for the Leader Award handed to the best coach includes Daniel Isaila (Bani Yas), Marcel Keizer (Al Jazira), and Abdulaziz AlAnbari (Sharjah). Between the sticks, the nominees for the Golden Glove Award are Ali Khaseif (Al Jazira), Fahad Al Dhanhani (Bani Yas), and Adel Al Hosani (Sharjah).
Three youngsters battle for the Golden Boy Award for the best Emirati young player: Majid Rashid (Ittihad Kalba), Ahmed Al Hammadi (Al Dhafra), and Ali Saleh (Al Wasl). Meanwhile, the newly introduced Golden Boy Award for the best young player (resident or born in UAE) will see competition between Igor Jesus (Shabab Al Ahli), Ahmed Abunamous (Bani Yas), and Oumar Traoré (Al Jazira).
Three players vie for the Fans' Player of the Year award; Omar Khrbin (Al Wahda), Fabio Lima (Al Wasl), and Ismail Matar (Al Wahda). Meanwhile, the three finalists for the Goal of the Year Award are Omar Khrbin (Al Wahda), Yahia Nader (Al Ain), and Ismail Matar (Al Wahda). The Best Online Sports Platform Award is contested between Sport 4 All, UAE Soccer, and Action_News.
The winner of the Pro League Licensing Award, a criteria-based award, is also set to be revealed at the ceremony. It will be handed to the club that meets the criteria of the club licensing system, quality control, administrative penalties, cooperation, and overall ranking in all competitions except for the Super Cup match.
Meanwhile, the awards for the statistics-based category include the Dream Team award, the Golden Shoe for the league's top scorer, the Silver Shoe for the top scorer of the U21 league, and the Fantasy Manager of the Year.