Saturday, June 18, 2011

Malaysia's EPL obsession attracts three teams over 8 days

If betting on football was legal in Malaysia, the most popular game this month would surely be which of three English Premier League clubs visiting Kuala Lumpur in July will attract the biggest attendance at the 80,000-capacity National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Malaysian selections will play Arsenal on 13 July, Liverpool on 16 July and Chelsea on 21 July and organisers have set the same ticket prices for each game.

"This is the first country in the world that will play three (Premier League) giants in a week ... not even Brazil have done that," Football Association of Malaysia vice president Subahan Kamal proudly said - notwithstanding that it's highly unlikely any South American country would see prestige in allowing its national team to play an English club side.

Regardless, the collaboration between the Malaysian government and promoters to bring top-class English football brands to the country has been extraordinarily successful and appears to have totally overwhelmed the Asian Football Confederation's attempts to tie big exhibition games to local football development.

However, with the amendment to FIFA's statutes at its last congress, which provides Confederations with the right to disallow or tax such matches, the AFC may return to its campaigning in the next off-season.

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