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Globe Soccer Conference

Pep and Ribéry represent FCB in Dubai

For most of the Bayern stars the period between Christmas and New Year means relaxation, putting tired feet up and recharging spent batteries. Some are recuperating up in the mountains, some have gone in search of the sun, and still others are simply enjoying time at home. But that is emphatically not the case for Pep Guardiola, Franck Ribéry and an camera crew, who have interrupted their holidays for a couple of days for a flying visit to Dubai and the fifth edition of the Globe Soccer Conference.

The Bayern boss arrived in the Emirate on Saturday and spent the morning in a roundtable discussion as a member of a big-name panel. Guardiola spent an hour exchanging views with Fabio Capello and Antonio Conte about the future of football. One of the key points for the FCB head coach was an appeal to increase the number of permitted substitutes per match beyond the current three. Guardiola also made no secret of his delight at working with international superstars such as Ribéry: “Players like him make it easy for you to win,” declared Guardiola, who spoke Italian throughout the debate.

Ribéry himself made his grand entrance on Sunday. The UEFA Best Player in Europe and his wife flew direct from Paris to the Emirate, where the Bayern man joined Barça star Xavi on the podium. Speaking French, Franck looked back over his club’s astonishingly successful 2013. Ribéry was unstinting in his praise of Bayern and won over the hearts of the audience, who greeted his warm and appealing appearance with tumultuous applause.

The Globe Soccer Conference is an annual gathering in Dubai for leading individuals and institutions in international football, providing a forum to debate strategies and ideas for the future. The likes of Guardiola, Ribéry and Cristiano Ronaldo have travelled as ambassadors for the European game to the Arab world. The event closes with a gala dinner on Sunday evening, where the two representatives of the club world champions will doubtless again be the centre of attention.