Barcelona legend Carles Puyol and renowned referee Pierluigi Collina are among the major names from the world of football set to headline the 12th International Sports Conference Madinat Jumeirah on December 27-28.

Puyol and Collina will be joined – among others – by Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, former England and Juventus coach Fabio Capello, and Roma hero Francesco Totti.

This year’s International Sports Conference is to focus on future investment in football, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino also expected to attend.

“As we have seen in previous years, this conference bears witness to many new things,” Dubai Sports Council General Secretary Saeed Hareb said.

“Last year we saw Infantino launch his successful bid to become FIFA president and announce the expansion of the World Cup finals to 48 teams from 2026.

“This year we will have many great names speaking on their own experiences and discuss the future investment in the sport.”

Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal praised Dubai for its hosting of the event, telling Gulf News: “Dubai is one of the best cities in the world and I have chosen to live here now I have finished my Masters Diploma in Management.

“I will set up an academy focused on talent development and target training this talent and possibly transfer these players to Europe in the future. My studies are finished but this is a long road ahead.

“Football is growing here and the coaches and authorities are using this type of conference to help that growth. I will focus on players between the ages of 12 and 18 to build this business. It is not only on the pitch you need to do work.

“I was always told start in Dubai. This is my home. Step by step I will find a way with the help of the people here.”