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Abu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Five rising international football stars from New York City FC’s first team squad have teamed up with Etihad Airways to complete a whirlwind 24 hours in Abu Dhabi challenge. 

In their first visit to the UAE, captured in a new video, NYCFC players Ronald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace, Sean Johnson, Ben Sweat and Jonathan Lewis took in the sights and sounds of the vibrant capital city during a jam-packed itinerary which they completed in just 24 hours.

Their itinerary included speeding along the race track at Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, visiting the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi and the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, kicking the ball around on the sand at Saadiyat Beach Club, teeing off at Yas Links Golf Club, and enjoying a gourmet meal at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. They also experienced a traditional safari under the stars in the Liwa Desert.

NYCFC forward, Rodney Wallace, who successfully helped Costa Rica earn a bid to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, said: “It was my first time in Abu Dhabi and it's a spectacular place. We managed to see a lot of sights in the short time we were there, and it was exciting to see how many activities you can do on a short trip, whether that be chilling out on the beach, getting behind the wheel of a race car and enjoying a cultural experience. There were even more places we didn’t visit this time around that are on the list for when we return!”

Etihad Airways Senior Vice President Sales (UAE, GCC, Levant and Africa) Hareb Al Muhairy, said: “It was our honour as the national airline of the UAE to host NYCFC in Abu Dhabi for the first time. The players were able to experience many of our capital city’s exciting attractions and see first-hand why it has become such a popular destination with all types of travellers.

“Etihad and NYCFC undertook the 24 hours in Abu Dhabi challenge as part of our global partnerships. Sports, and football in particular, are a unifying language that bonds diverse communities around the world in much the same way travel does.”

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