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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 12, 2008

US will only host Premier League with FIFA blessing

Premier League hopes of a trans-Atlantic alliance over their proposal to play a round of matches overseas appear to be in tatters.

Since last Thursday's revelation that top-flight clubs were to investigate the plan to stage 10 matches outside the UK in January 2011, the reaction from around the globe has been lukewarm at best.

Officials from Australia and Japan expressed broad opposition, while the Saudi Arabians insisted they would be interested in nothing but the 'big four'.

The only country to express outright support in the immediate aftermath was America, but the prospect of matches being held stateside diminished yesterday when Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation, admitted he would not go against FIFA's wishes to host games.

'We've been reluctant to have official games played in the US,' he told BBC Sport.

'We'll be guided by FIFA on this matter. But if it's not in line with its rules then we won't sanction it.

'We had a similar proposal 10 years ago when a team playing in Los Angeles wanted to play in the Mexican league. We didn't let that happen and CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) said no.

'We understand it's a global sport but it's about nurturing the home game.

'If FIFA said 'Okay, it's up to the relevant FAs', then we would look at it.

'We have got a great relationship with the English FA and there's a lot of good reasons to look at it. But there are also some issues that we have got which would cause us to be very hesitant.'

South Korea, another potentially-lucrative market for the Premier League, are also reluctant to commit to the initiative.

'If FIFA approve then, frankly speaking we would have to carefully consider the effect that it would have on our league - that would be the most important issue,' said Korea Football Association general secretary Ka Sam-hyun.

'There is no doubt that Korean fans would be enthusiastic about the idea as there are a number of Korean players playing in the Premier League but our priority is if it would benefit the K-league.

'If we think that it could and help bring Korean fans to the stadiums to watch Korean games then we will consider the issue, but if we think not - then that is another matter entirely.

'At the moment however, it is too early to say.'

FIFA, world football's governing body, will look into the proposal for a 39th round of English matches being taken abroad at their executive committee meeting on March 14.

They have so far refused to back or dismiss the scheme championed by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore but UEFA president Michael Platini has already insisted it would 'never be received' by FIFA.

Scudamore, however, claimed on Sunday the matches could go ahead without the say-so of FIFA, but Gulati's admission appears to render his stance irrelevant.

But Scudamore remains determined, adding: 'Clearly, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome.

'We've seen how sport is globalising, we compete in the entertainment industry.

'We understand it's a global sport but it's about nurturing the home game.

'This is a solidarity move where all 20 clubs want to do it. It benefits all of them and it's far better we all do it rather than allow single clubs to.'

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