THE football-loving King of Malaysia Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah is in Doha to attend part of the final-ending FIFA World Cup Qatar matches.
The King and his accompanying delegation were received upon arrival at Hamad International Airport by Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali and Ambassador of Malaysia to Qatar, Zamshari Shaharan.
His Majesty has long been involved in football, following the footsteps of his late father. They both sat on the FIFA Executive Committee.
The special Qatar visit was made at the personal invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, another football-loving royalty.
COURTESY CALL FOR THE KING
“Apart from the invitation to watch the semi-final and final matches of the World Cup, His Majesty is also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Sheikh Tamim,” said a statement from the Malaysian Palace.
“His Majesty is also scheduled to grant an audience to several Qatari leaders and attend a gathering with the Malaysian diaspora in Qatar during the special visit.”
Sheikh Tamim’s personal invitation was conveyed by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to Al-Sultan Abdullah during an audience at Istana Negara on Aug 12.
His Majesty was a member of the Fifa executive committee from 2015 to 2019. He ascended the throne in 2019 at the age of 59, becoming Malaysia’s 16th monarch since it gained independence from Britain in 1957.
Malaysia has an unique constitutional monarchy in which kings have been chosen in turn from the royal families of nine states, and each reigns for a five-year term.
The silver-haired, bespectacled Al-Sultan Abdullah became king after the surprise abdication of the previous king. He was at the time and time before this held the position of Tengku Mahkota Pahang for almost 44 years. In 2016, he was proclaimed as the Regent of Pahang after the approval of the late father, the Sultan of Pahang.
He had to resign from the FIFA post after taking his oath of office as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in early January 2019.
But his unwavering support for football and hockey was there as he supported the rise of sports in the country. Pahang ranks as one of the most sporting states in Malaysia.
He is an avid sportsman, having represented his East Coast state of Pahang in football matches in his younger days.
With his close sporting interests, he has served as a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and as President of the Asian Hockey Federation.
* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.
Here are more stories related to the FIFA World Cup.