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By ESPN Staff
Aug 3, 2007

No more conflict with European clubs - AFC chief

BANGKOK, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Asia's top soccer official says he expects to see harmony between the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and European clubs, despite a recent spat over Manchester United's pre-season tour of the continent.

AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam said the heated dispute, which erupted when the Red Devils booked their tour at the same time as the Asian Cup, was a thing of the past.

'We now have a better understanding with European clubs and European leagues,' Bin Hammam told broadcaster ESPN.

'I am glad to see that this (Manchester United issue) has opened a wide door for discussion, agreement and cooperation.'

He added: 'I think that this will be of benefit to football in Asia and maybe in the world. I don't think that, in the future, there will conflict between the AFC and Europe.'

A row broke out in the lead up to last month's Asian Cup after co-host Malaysia invited the English Premier League champions to play an exhibition match two days before the final.

The club agreed to call off the match after complaints from the AFC, but still played games in South Korea, Japan and Macau at the same time as Asia's biggest soccer tournament.

Bin Hammam favours a ban on clubs touring Asia during the next Asian Cup in Qatar in 2011, although with the competition slated for January -- midway through the European league season -- few clubs are likely to visit the region.