Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Criticism #3. Blame the Football Associations

Photo: Not a rhetorical question: What's an officially branded Man U motorbike on sale in Thailand got to do with developing and helping local football?

The third part in our series where we tackle some common criticisms aimed at our movement and its point of view.

Critic: Don't blame the EPL for the relative unpopularity of local Asian leagues: it's the fault of the useless, incompetent, corrupt governing bodies in those countries. They failed to properly develop their own leagues leaving a vacuum for the EPL to fill.

SEPLCiA: We agree! In particular, the football associations in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia need to ask some serious questions of themselves and be asked some serious questions. Corruption and plain incompetence are issues in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia whilst in Singapore there has almost been an unwillingness on the part of the FAS to promote their domestic S-League. And the suits still don't seem to get it. In July we were treated to the sight of the FAM and the FAT rolling out the red carpet for Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Shouldn't these people be doing absolutely everything in their power to promote their own leagues instead of giving yet more publicity to some of the richest clubs in the world?

Yes, the respective FAs should take a lot of the blame for the popularity of the Premier League in South-East Asia. But, as much as they've been part of the problem they have the potential to be part of the solution; EPL clubs can NEVER be that. For all the problems that remain in Thai football, for example, the league has come a long way over the past couple of years. Increased publicity and professionalism have led to a huge rise in interest and attendances. Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have played no role (and nor should they) in the boom in Thai football.
Despite their high-minded talk of 'legacies' and 'development', EPL clubs have absolutely no positive part to play in the future of Asian football. As they are so keen to tell us, they are businesses now. So for them to claim that they want to help to build and develop local leagues goes against their own declared business principles.
If they truly care about the future development of football in the region then they should stay out – no more pre-season tours; no more megastores; no more one-sided 'partnerships' with Asian clubs – and allow the domestic Asian leagues to develop in their own way and in their own time without the European giants forever hovering in the background looking for new 'customers'.

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