Doha, QATAR – High-flying Qatar Airways entered a piece of history today by flying the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final match football which is set to raise a significant amount of money at this week’s Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) charity Gala Dinner in Doha.
The Golden Ball was given extra special treatment as a ‘First Class passenger’ onboard Qatar Airways Flight QR005 from Doha to London Heathrow ahead of a promotional tour. The football returns to Qatar where it is set to be auctioned off at the much-anticipated Reach Out To Asia Gala Dinner on November 4.
Intense interest from collectors and football fans around the world is being shown in the countdown to the star-studded Gala Dinner with news that the official 2006 World Cup Final match ball, signed by champions Italy, is to go under the auctioneer’s hammer at the charity’s auction.
Being one of only 20 footballs made for the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin, the ball up for auction was actually used during the historic match between France and Italy that was watched by tens of millions of soccer fans worldwide this summer.
Certified by FIFA, the name of the Final stadium, the teams, the match date and the kick-off time are all recorded onto this golden ball. But what makes the match ball truly ‘one of a kind’ is the addition of the signatures of the entire winning Italian team and reigning World Champions.
From team captain, Canavarro, to striker Materazzi, stalwart midfielder Gattuso to goalkeeper Buffon, each proud member of the World Cup winning team has penned his name triumphantly on the ball, capturing forever the spirit of what football fans view as the most important match in football history.
The ball will undoubtedly be the focus of soccer fans and collectors worldwide, particularly among the millions of passionate Italians, who would undoubtedly be eager to get their hands on such an historic piece of football memorabilia.
Speculation about the amount of money the ball is likely to raise for the charity is widespread, as Italian football authorities are said to be keen to acquire the ball to display as an historic treasure piece.
The Sotheby’s-run auction takes place during the star-studded Reach Out To Asia Gala Dinner at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Doha.
Antiques expert Henry Wyndham will conduct the auction on behalf of Sotheby’s.
Absentee bidders from around the world will be able to join in the bidding for the coveted ball, further raising the prospect of a money-spinning auction.
Celebrities, sportsmen, politicians and VIPs will gather in the Qatari capital this week for the red-carpet affair to raise funds for ROTA’s various aid projects throughout Asia and the Middle East.
Among the guests attending are Australian-born singer Natalie Imbruglia who will perform on the night, fashion icon Pierre Cardin, South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, legendary Tour De France cyclist Eddie Merckx, Italian Olympic Gold Medalist Gelindo Bordin, 2006 World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss, supermodel Adriana Karembeu and her husband Christian, the former French national footballer.
Along with the former stars of European football, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronald de Boer and Jay Jay Okacha, they will join guests for what promises to be an evening to remember.
Former England soccer managers Sven-Goran-Eriksson and Glenn Hoddle, together with ex-French national coach Michel Hidalgo will also grace the red carpet event.
A non-governmental organisation based in Qatar, Reach Out To Asia was founded under the patronage of The Heir Apparent, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and chaired by his sister, Her Excellency Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Sheikha Mayassa has been the guiding force behind the charity’s success, helping organise high-profile fund-raising campaigns and visits to regions across Asia to help those in need.
ROTA’s inaugural Gala Dinner last year, attended by former US President Bill Clinton and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, featured an auction of exclusive items raising a staggering US$10 million for worthy causes.
This year’s event features the 2006 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, donated by Asian Football Confederation’s President, Mohammed bin Hammam, as part of a catalogue of exciting and exclusive lots from prestigious global brands such as Boucheron, Ferrari, Harley Davidson, Maserati and Ducatti.
Organisers expect the auction to surpass the US$10 million raised last year.
Jointly founded in 2005 by national airline, Qatar Airways, Qatar Foundation and the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC), Reach Out To Asia has since raised millions of dollars for worthy causes across the Asian continent.
The three organisations have been collectively working throughout the year to support and drive the charity efforts of Reach Out To Asia, which has developed into a vibrant organisation, operating under the umbrella of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development based at Education City in Qatar.
With just weeks to go before Qatar stages the 15th Asian Games in Doha, this year’s Reach Out To Asia Gala Dinner will further help turn the global spotlight on Qatar. Thousands of athletes will converge on Qatar for what is expected to be the biggest ever Asian Games in history between December 1 – 15.
To donate to the Reach Out To Asia fund-raising drive, pledges can be made to the following account:-
Qatar National Bank, Doha, Qatar
Account: Reach Out To Asia
Account Number: 0035-004919-001
Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132