Leading Italian football club Inter Milan believes a UAE or Gulf national could play for the team as a result of a new football academy to be launched in Abu Dhabi, the club's director-general said on Thursday.
Inter Milan boss Ernesto Paolillo signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and UAE real estate developer Hydra Properties to build the sole Inter Milan football academy in the region in Abu Dhabi, and said it could be a source of future talent.
"I believe it will be possible [for a Gulf national] to play for Inter Milan," said Paollio, speaking in Abu Dhabi.
"With our youth academy, why not? We believe that it possible to find great talent in the UAE and the region, and we believe that with this co-operation, it will be possible to improve the quality of the players,” he said.
The academy, which will be open to children in the region between the ages of nine and 14 years, will be based in Abu Dhabi development Hydra City and will house a stadium to be built and sponsored solely by Hydra Properties.
"I am confident that the academy will flourish to produce many football superstars from the UAE, who will learn the needed skills and talents that will enable them to challenge the thrones of Pele, Maradona and Ronaldinho," said Dr. Sulaiman Al Fahim, chief executive of Hydra Properties.
Under the terms of the deal, young soccer players from all UAE clubs will have the chance to enter the academy, the second established by the club outside Italy, and will be sent to Inter Milan for part of their training.
Costs regarding the development of the academy and the stadium were unspecified.
Innter Milan will retain their Serie A championship title in Italy if they beat rivals AC Milan on Sunday, as both clubs battle to reach next year's Champions League.