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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 16:51 GMT
Asia opposes Premier League plan
Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam says he is strongly opposed to the Premier League's plan of top-flight clubs playing games abroad.

The English season could be extended by one match with the 39th round being played in five overseas venues.

"We'll vote strongly against it. The Premier League is putting money before responsibility and dignity," Hammam told BBC sports editor Mihir Bose.

"As far as Asia is concerned, I'm not supportive of this initiative."

The plans to play a 39th round of games abroad from January 2011 have sparked widespread criticism.

And the BBC has learned that world governing body Fifa is also lukewarm about the idea.

It has made it clear it will not consider the proposal unless it comes from the English Football Association, rather than the Premier League.

I appreciate, for example, if the Premier League want to play in Darfur, Somalia or East Timor where they can act as peace makers

Mohamed bin Hammam

And the US has said it would only entertain the idea if Fifa approved it.

However, some federations in the Middle East have expressed an interest in the plans.

Essa Saleh, managing director of the United Arab Emirates Football Association, told BBC Sport that Dubai would be a prime venue especially with a 60,000-seater stadium at Dubai Sports City destined for completion in 2011.

"It would be advantageous for the UAE and it would be advantageous for the Premier League. The arrangement would suit both parties," he said.

"Dubai is now one of the most famous cities in the world and it hosts a number of important sporting events. One or two Premier League matches would fit into this.

"We have more than 100 nationalities living in Dubai, most sports fans around the world know all the players, and the Dubai Sports City stadium will be the best in the Middle East."

Qatar, meanwhile, says it would like to stage a game in Doha while Saudi Arabia says it would be interested but only if the matches involved big teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool.

Hammam believes the Premier League and its chief executive Richard Scudamore should have thought more carefully about the proposal before it became public.

"I wish the people in charge of the Premier League would think twice about organising any matches outside England in Asia," added Hammam.

"Friendly matches I'm not against. I welcome that. But I cannot digest at all that a different league will be played in another country than its own.

"There was no consultation, I just read about it in the newspapers.

"But the recommendation as far as this is concerned will be no. There's no question of the Premier League organising such a match in Asia.

"It's always my honour to meet with Mr Scudamore and discuss football activities between Asia and the Premier League. I'm a friend of his.

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose

"But I shall be very frank with him and tell him that this does not meet with our acceptance."

Hammam says that instead of trying to cash in on foreign markets, the Premier League should try to use its high-profile status as a force for good.

"I should say that I respect very much the Premier League," said Hammam. "I like to watch the Premier League.

"But they are interfering with the domestic and local competitions in different national associations if they think this idea can be realised.

"I appreciate, for example, if the Premier League want to play in Darfur, Somalia or East Timor where they can act as peace makers.

"If I have a chance to speak to the Fifa president Mr Sepp Blatter, I will tell him my strong opposition to this initiative."

Global plan will 'distort' League
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Fifa 'lukewarm' on global plans
13 Feb 08 |  Premier League
US reluctant to host Premier ties
12 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Lamb backs '39th game' proposals
13 Feb 08 |  Middlesbrough
Top clubs consider overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Mixed reaction to overseas plan
08 Feb 08 |  Premier League
What they say on overseas games
08 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Premier League going global
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League


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