Sunday, July 31, 2005

Premier League to cooperate with AFC on tours

The English Premier League is to talk to the Asian Football Confederation about ways to prevent English clubs from exploiting Asia through tours, AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam said yesterday.

Hammam said he supported comments by FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi, who accused European clubs of making money out of Asia and robbing the continent’s struggling domestic leagues of much-needed funds.

“I am supporting Urs. We are very concerned about European teams coming to Asia and leaving after collecting money without leaving any kind of legacy behind. They did not do anything to help national associations with any kind of football programmes. We have spoken to the Premier League and they agree that English clubs should not only come to Asia to play and leave but to play and leave behind some sort of contribution to football in Asia," Mr bin Hammam said, as quoted by Reuters.

The president said the AFC was unable to force European clubs to take a moral stand over their profit margins but warned that Asian fans would not be fooled judging by the lower than expected turnouts for some matches.

“I must stress that we are in no way against English or European teams coming to Asia,” he said. “Asians love English football. They are stars and role models for us so they have a moral obligation as well as a contractual obligation when they play here. They can have a very positive effect in the development of Asian football.”