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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 18:10 GMT
Does the world want Premier League?
North AmericaEuropeMiddle EastAsiaAustralasia

By Chris Whyatt

The Premier League has proposed an international round of league games to be played in five cities across the globe from 2011 to cater for the worldwide demand for English football.

But Fifa president Sepp Blatter has told BBC Sport the Premier League's plans "will never happen, at least as long as I am the president of Fifa".

So what have the various associations around the world been saying since the idea was revealed?

MIDDLE EAST

Various oil-rich states across the Middle East are desperate to host internationally-important sporting events as a means to market their region and - should the idea progress- competition between them is bound to be fierce.

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
A new national professional league is being launched in Dubai

"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 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.

"It is a good idea to have such world-class matches outside England. However, there are certain requirements to make the idea successful in Saudi Arabia," said Faisal Al Abdulhadi, general secretary of the Saudi Arabia Football Association.

"The matches should have big teams from England like Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool and there should be a good marketing for the matches from companies here in Saudi Arabia."

Ali Al Noaimi, assistant general secretary of the Qatar Football Association, believes Premier League football would be welcomed in the area but admitted his organisation had not been approached.

"It would be a welcome addition for football in Qatar. However, personally, I don't think that this idea will be applied," he said.

"We would love to have such a match here in Doha especially as there are a lot of fans who support English Premier League sides and there would be a lot of fans at such matches.

"But we were not approached to have such matches and I don't think that we will be contacted because there are certain cities around the globe who were nominated to stage such matches."

AUSTRALASIA

Football in Australia plays second, third, and even fourth fiddle to cricket, both codes of rugby and Australian Rules Football, but the game is making serious inroads into the national psyche.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Frank Lowy sees no great benefit to the country hosting any Premier League matches.

Sydney
Australian officials would rather concentrate on local leagues

"We said when this issue first arose last week that FFA's overwhelming priority is to promote the Hyundai A-League and to continue to invest in, and grow, the game in Australia - that remains our view," he said.

"The bottom line is, FFA rejects the notion of another country playing a round of their domestic competition in Australia and intruding on the development of the A-League and the game in Australia."

NORTH AMERICA

Reaction in North America - home of NFL, basketball and baseball - is mixed.

US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati insisted America would not host a Premier League game without FIFA's consent.

"We've been reluctant to have official games played in the US," US Soccer chief Sunil Gulati told BBC Sport.

"We'll be guided by Fifa on this matter. But if it's not in line with its rules then we won't sanction it."

"We had a similar proposal 10 years ago when a team playing in Los Angeles wanted to play in the Mexican league. We didn't let that happen and CONCACAF (the federation for North and Central America) said no.

New York
Soccer continues to grow slowly in the United States

"We understand it's a global sport, but it's about nurturing the home game. If FIFA said, 'okay, it's up to the relevant FAs', then we would look at it."

MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis added: "We will have to wait and evaluate the proposal. I don't see it as a negative for MLS, but the implications go beyond these games on their own.

"There are implications for the game worldwide. There are implications when matches are taken across borders in this way."

The Los Angeles Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas believes the proposal is exciting, despite his interest in Major League Soccer.

"I look on this as an opportunity for our fans to get first-hand experience of what the level is in England," he said.

"I see it as a great way to pit our level against what is perceived as the greatest league in the world.

"Teams have come here on tours for years, America is recognised as an emerging market, but the competition wasn't there so to see teams in meaningful games is great for the spectators."

ASIA

Football is hugely popular across vast swathes of the world's biggest continent and - in the Far East and South East Asia especially - millions of fans gather to watch Premier League matches on television and in bars every weekend.

But 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.

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

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

Seoul
South Korean capital Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympic Games

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

"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.

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

Japanese Football Association vice-president Junji Ogura was also quick to play down the possibility of the Premier League staging fixtures in Japan.

"It sounds problematic. We are, in principle, opposed to having their Premier League games in Japan as we have to protect our league and clubs," he said.

"In Japan, we don't allow anyone to play a match that involves only foreign clubs and no Japanese clubs."

South Korea Football Association general secretary Ka Sam-hyun was interested by the idea - but confirmed they would have to consult FIFA before they went ahead with it.

"If FIFA approve then, frankly speaking, we would have to carefully consider the effect that it would have on our league - that would be the most important issue," he said.

"There is no doubt that Korean fans would be enthusiastic about the idea as there are a number of Korean players playing in the Premier League but our priority is if it would benefit the K-league.

"If we think that it could and help bring Korean fans to the stadiums to watch Korean games then we will consider the issue, but if we think not then that is another matter entirely.

"At the moment, however, it is too early to say."

EUROPE

Football is the national sport in virtually every European country but the Premier League still records huge television viewing figures, even in nations where leagues can draw comparison with the English top flight.

When asked if Spain had similiar plans, a spokesman for the Primera Liga said no plans were under discussion for its club teams to follow the Premier League's lead.

Spain
Spanish football is experiencing a similiar boom to the English game

"I think it is an idea that fits in with the notion of football as a global game - a sport without borders," he said.

"Football is without borders and something like this is a sign that the sport is adapting to the time that we live in.

"But I want to reiterate that we have no plans to do the same and have not ever thought about it or talked about it."



SEE ALSO
Blatter hostile to overseas plan
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Global plan will 'distort' League
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Asia opposes Premier League plan
13 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Platini scorns global games plan
09 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
Pros & cons of global Premier plan
08 Feb 08 |  Premier League
What they say on overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Premier League going global
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League


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