Monday, July 30, 2007


That's that then

That’s that then

With Iraq celebrating their first ever Asian Cup success the eyes of the football world will move away from Asia and back to more familiar topics like Beckham and Fergie. Left behind will be questions, problems and hope.

The AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam confessed little had been in done in terms of promotion which is fair enough. Much time was spent redeveloping the stadiums though in the case of Bung Karno they overlooked the PA system which was abysmal. Of course it begs the question what was the marketing team doing then if not promoting the event? I said jokingly before it all kicked off that a couple of spanduk round Bung Karno isn’t the best advertising in the world. Having local players going round schools and giving presentations may have provided better value and reached the second most important demographic. Kids. The most important group should have been targeted where they play; in the malls. Indonesian games aside many attendances were poor and with Qatar hosting the next tournament in 2011 will things be any better then? Will Japanese and Koreans travel in large numbers or will organizers rely on locals filling the stadia?

While there may not have been a whole heap of awareness before the tournament started it’s fair to say once it got under way things improved. Local papers gave it pretty good coverage as did ESPN/Star and down under Fox Sports. Proof, if it was needed, that there is a market for Asian football. TV ratings have apparently been good and fans now in the region are familiar with the likes of al Qahtani, Mahmoud and Endo which is important if the game is to seriously take hold and compete with their European counterparts.

With regard to security Jakarta was at time slack. To gain access to the stadium concourse you had to negotiate a series of fences which had narrow gates only slightly ajar. People pushed to force their way through this narrow space and we are lucky there were no serious injuries. I find it hard to believe after so many experiences a footballing body could allow this type of thing to happen. Within the stadium people freely moved from sector to sector irrespective of their seat number and again there was little to hinder movement.

As at most games last night saw plenty of touts in the approaches to the stadium. So much for ticket sales being tightly controlled. I also understand last night tickets were offered for sale in some quarters at a hefty discount. Certainly in the Saudi v Uzbekistan quarter final tickets that I paid 10 USD in advance were sold at the gate for something like 2.50. Yes, encourage people to come but penalize those fans who paid early?

Despite the odd gripe though the winner has been Asian football. Australia may have learnt to keep their gobs shut in future. Korea may learn that scoring goals is a useful way to win games. Malaysia may even consider a major overhaul of their game domestically and running it on a more professional footing. Players from Iraq to Japan via Vietnam and Uzbekistan have been in the shop window and some of them may get the opportunity to shine in leagues overseas. And for me? Next Saturday the Liga Indonesia starts again…

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