The UAE Pro League held its annual awards ceremony for the 2020-2021 season on Monday, 16 August, at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The magnificent ceremony included a musical production titled “A Success Story". It sent a message of appreciation and gratitude to the wise leadership and the first line of defence for their efforts in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE.
The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Abdulla Naser Al-Jneibi, UAE Football Association Senior Vice-President and UAE Pro League Chairman, His Excellency Hassan Taleb Al Marri, UAEPL Board Member and Technical Committee Chairman, His Excellency Tariq Ali Al Shabibi, UAEPL Board Member and Technical Committee Vice-Chairman, and Board Members Mohammed Obaid AlYamahi and Jawaher Abdulaziz Al Suwaidi. The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Mohammed Hazam Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the UAE Football Association, representatives of sponsors, partners, clubs, sports councils, and media.
The UAE National Anthem was played at the beginning of the ceremony, before host Adnan Hamad welcomed the guests. It was followed by a video highlighting the top moments of the 2020-2021 season.
Afterward, His Excellency Abdulla Naser Al-Jneibi, UAE Pro League Chairman, gave an opening speech: “I am always at a loss for words when it comes to thanking our wise leadership. I am always proud of the massive support we receive on all levels, which makes us the happiest people in the world. Tonight, we celebrate the champions, those who shone in an exceptional season that saw us work together to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. We stood united together as the UAE, thanks to the vision of its leadership, assumed a leading position and dominated the scene to protect everyone living on this land and even extended its support to offer a helping hand beyond its borders, because it is the UAE, the land of Zayed. And today, as we are about to start a new season, we take a moment to honor last season’s exceptional efforts. The UAE Pro League is happy to celebrate with all of you tonight; sponsors, media, clubs, fans, and everyone who is looking forward to this exceptional night. I wish you all the best.”
As is the case with every sporting event organized by the UAEPL, it produced a magnificent musical production titled “A Success Story” under the supervision of the nation's poet and lyricist Ali Al Khawar in collaboration with singers Mansour Al Feeli and young artist Talal Al-Bloushi and director Hassan Abdel-Hamid. The production praised the efforts of the first line of defence and their huge role in ensuring the safety of every citizen and resident of the UAE. It also shed light on the inspiring phrase "Don't Worry" said by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The event honored the UAEPL’s partners and sponsors, including the rights holders who broadcast the UAE Pro League competitions and did their best to provide entertaining content to the fans, through their analytical studios, specialized talk shows, and live coverage. The TV channels are Abu Dhabi Sports Channel represented by Vice President Omran Mohamed, Dubai Sports channel represented by Channel Manager Abdulrahman Amin, and Sharjah Sports Channel represented by Head of Programs Ateeq Mohamed.
The ceremony then honored the UAEPL’s partners and sponsors, and all those who played an important role in the competitions’ success and development of UAE football namely, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) represented by His Excellency Yasser Al Mazrouei, Follow up Committee of the Initiatives of UAE President represented by Ali Jassim Al Mazrouei, Emirates Palace Hotel represented by Michael Koth, Emirates Airline represented by Saeed Khalifa Bin Sulaiman, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank represented by Sameh Awadallah, Etisalat represented by His Excellency Sultan Mohamed Al Dhaheri, Al Nabooda Automobiles represented by Inken Wessels, and Rixos Hotels represented by Ali Ozbay.
A trophy was also handed to His Excellency Mohammed Hazam Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the UAE Football Association, the main partner of the UAE Pro League in developing football in the UAE.
The event's host Adnan Hamad provided a brief on the UAE Pro League Awards, which comprises three categories: statistics-based awards, vote-based awards, and criteria-based awards, where the winners are selected based on performances in the league competition only.
The vote-based category includes the Golden Ball Award for the best Emirati player, the Golden Ball Award for the best foreign player, the Leader Award for the best coach, the Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper, the Golden Boy Award for the best Emirati young player, the Golden Boy Award for the best young player (resident or born in UAE), the Fans' Player of the Year Award, the Goal of the Year Award, and the Best Online Sports Platform Award.
Meanwhile, the statics-based awards included 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.
The Pro League Licensing Award, a criteria-based award, is 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.
His Excellency Abdulla Naser Al-Jneibi handed the Goal of the Year Award to Al Wahda player Ismail Matar who beat off competition from teammate Omar Khrbin and Al Ain's Yahia Nader.
The Best Online Sports Platform Award was handed to the platform that provided the best coverage of the league, as Sport 4 All grabbed the trophy following competition from UAE Soccer and Action_News.
Mohamed Al Awady won the Fantasy Manager of the Year Award following fierce competition throughout the season, which saw several awards being handed to fantasy participants over the league season. The UAEPL also called on fans to start signing up for the new fantasy season.
Al Nasr Club were handed the Pro League Club Licensing Award before Ismail Matar collected his second award of the night as he was named the Fans' Player of the Year.
In regard to the statistics-based awards, Bani Yas’ Said Khamis earned the Silver Shoe Award after finishing off as the U21 league top scorer with a total of 22 goals. Meanwhile, the Golden Shoe Award for the league’s top scorer was handed to Al Jazira’s Ali Mabkhout who entertained the fans throughout the season and bagged 25 goals.
The newly introduced Golden Boy Award for the best young player (resident or born in UAE) was handed to Shabab Al Ahli's Igor Jesus, whereas the Golden Boy Award for the best young Emirati player went to Al Wasl's Ali Saleh.
Al Jazira's Ali Khaseif earned the Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper of the season. Meanwhile, his coach Marcel Keizer claimed the Leader Award for the best coach.
The Golden Ball Award for the best foreign player went to Joao Pedro of Bani Yas, while Ali Mabkhout snatched the Golden Ball Award for the best Emirati player.
Moreover, the league’s Dream Team line-up has was announced, as it included 11 players who excelled in their positions throughout the entire season namely, Ali Mabkhout, Joao Pedro, Fabio Lima, Abdullah Ramadan, Thulani Serero, Ryan Mendes, Bandar AlAhbabi, Walid Abbas, Milos Kosanovic, Mahmoud Khamis, and Ali Khaseif.