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04 March 2024

Dubai clash averted: Salman Khan still batting; Abhishek backs off

Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor (L) and Abhishek Bachchan during their football practice session. (Pic: ASFC)

By Bindu Suresh Rai

It was an action-packed weekend that would have gone down in history with as many as 50 of Bollywood’s leading stars descending onto Dubai for a two-day turf war between football and cricket.

However, it appears the weekend calendar seems to have opened up a tad as the ‘Football for Humanity’ charity event, led by Ranbir Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, has now been postponed.

Meanwhile, the juggernaut of the Celebrity Cricket League or CCL will continue to bowl Dubai over as planned, with February 1 seeing the Suniel Shetty led Mumbai Heroes taking on Venkatesh’s Telugu Warriors at 1.30pm.

Following the first match, Rajeev Pillai of Kerala Strikers will fight on the pitch with Veer Marathi, that’s led by Riteish Deshmukh from 5.30pm.

Joining the teams will be brand ambassadors of Mumbai Heroes, Salman Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Chitraganda Singh and Nargis Fakhri, along with Genelia D’Souza for Veer Marathi.

Charmi and Richa Gangopadhyay for Telugu Warriors, along with Bhavana and Mamta Mohandas for Kerala Strikers will also be cheering from the sidelines.

While, fresh from the success of ‘Jai Ho’, director and Salman’s brother, Sohail Khan will also return to the city as the owner of Mumbai Heroes and one of the creators of CCL.

Organisers Dream Advertising and Ministry of Events have told Emirates 24|7, possible dates under consideration for a reschedule of ‘Football for Humanity’ is the last weekend in February or mid-March.

Managing partner, Syed Shuja said: “We decided it was best to postpone the football match in wake of CCL being held the same weekend.

“Football for Humanity is the co-creation of Raj Kundra (Shilpa Shetty’s husband) and Bunty Walia of GS Entertainment and a charitable cause.

“Considering everyone is from a single film fraternity and both events funding a good cause, it seemed unfair to the fans to have a clash.”

Shuja is hopeful the rescheduled event will continue with its list of a sea of Bollywood and sporting stars, including Arjun Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shoojit Sircar, Dino Morea, Karan Wahi, Marc Robinson, Shabir Ahluwalia, Ameet Gaur, Sachiin Joshi, Raj Kundra, Caesar Gonzalves,  Jignesh Antala, Jas Binag, Rohan Shreshta, sporting icons Leander Paes, Ritwik Bhattacharya and Nishant Mehra.

The celeb list is attached to the All Stars Football Club – a property of charitable trust, Playing for Humanity – spearheaded by Bollywood icons Bachchan and Ranbir who were to take on the Dubai Royals on the 31st of January at the Al Wasl Stadium in Dubai.

Shuja added: “Dubai Royals was to feature celeb names such as Pakistani cricketing legends Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, along with the band Strings and CEOs across major companies from the region.”

With the aim to raise funds for one of India’s largest non-profit organisation Magic Bus, which works towards creating a better future for over a million children living in poverty from childhood all the way through to gainful employment, ‘Playing for Humanity’ used the popular game of football as a platform.

However, Dubai won’t miss out on its share of Bollywood glamour, with the Shuja adding that next month will see the world premiere of ‘Gunday’ in the city, with Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in attendance.

Preceding them will be Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda for ‘Highway’, while Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan will be here for ‘Shaadi Ke Sideeffects’.