Sunday, July 31, 2005

Asia disappointed with many touring clubs

The Asian Football Confederation delivered a rebuke this weekend when it told visiting clubs to look beyond their commercial ambitions and help develop the sport regionally.

"European clubs have to remember that our national associations, players and fans look to them not as money-minded opportunists but as leaders and role-models in the game," AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam said.

The feeling of being let-down by the super clubs is resonating throughout East and South East Asia, AFP reported:

"The European clubs' gold-digging Chinese tours have stirred up resentment on the mainland. As well as pocketing millions of yuan for four-day visits, the clubs also spent more of their time busying themselves with commerical promotions and branding activities ... Are these prestige visits damaging Chinese football's long-term prospects and taking money out of the domestic game?," Beijing Today said in an editorial.

"Loyalty and true passion have been eclipsed by the lure of obscene salaries, agents' dirty manoeuvring and all the rest that makes up the ugly business side of club football ... Real Madrid and other wealthy clubs are the embodiment of much that is wrong in the game," The Nation newspaper of Thailand said.
No fewer than 12 European clubs descended on Asia in recent weeks, and ticket prices can be as high as two weeks' wages in China.

Manchester United saw attendances slip in Hong Kong and could only half-fill the Workers' Stadium in Beijing, as did Real Madrid. Real were unable to fill the 50,000-seat Tokyo Stadium in two attempts and Bayern Munich played there with half the seats empty, in a sign that the novelty of the annual tour may be fading.