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Leading Brazilian clubs sign Singapore deal

SINGAPORE, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Brazil's leading clubs have signed an agreement with Singapore's sports council (SSC) and football association to raise the standard of the sport in the city state.

Clube Dos 13, an elite group including clubs like Gremio, Sao Paulo, Santos, Flamengo and Internacional, signed the agreement to explore working opportunities and soccer development.

'We are here on a mission of friendship and cooperation to help Singapore develop world-class players and possibly embark on an international career,' president of Clube dos 13, Dr Fabio Andre Koff told reporters.

'There are many areas of expertise that we would be happy to share with our partners in Singapore.'

The details of the agreement are yet to be announced but it is believed they may include exchange programmes for players and coaches.

Brazil's ambassador to Singapore Paulo Alberto da Silveira Soares told the Straits Times broadsheet that Singapore had been chosen as it had had close ties with Brazil in the past, in areas such as the shipyard industry.

'With our help who says Singapore cannot make it to the World Cup finals in 2010 or 2014,' he said.

SSC chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik welcomed the partnership and said: 'The Brazilians will bring in their professional skills by working with youth groups like the Sports School.

'They will also bring in their unique brand of commercialisation, from marketing to sponsorship to broadcasting,' he told the Today tabloid.

Singaporean soccer players have, in the past, travelled to train with individual clubs including in England.

This deal is different, the SSC official said.

'This tie-up brings another dimension to Singapore football.

'It is not just one team coming for a friendly, but all the Brazilian league teams partnering us.'

Chief executive officer of Singapore's domestic soccer league, the S-League, Winston Lee said Brazil could also learn from Singapore.

'We could share with them our expertise in administration and marketing,' he told the Straits Times.

Lee would not rule out the participation of a Brazilian team in the S-League in the future. This season, the S-League will feature a team from Japan, South Korea and China.