A study has revealed that nearly a million overseas visitors traveled to the U.K. last year to watch football matches, making Great Britain "a leading sports tourism destination," according to Mark Townsend of the London GUARDIAN. Despite the high ticket prices and the problems of violence and racism in the game, new figures from national tourism agency VisitBritain "reaffirm the global allure of British football, particularly the Premier League." VisitBritain released figures that show 900,000 football supporters visited the U.K. last year. U.K. Minister for Sport and Tourism Hugh Robertson described the Premier League as "one of this country's most-successful exports." Football tourists collectively spent £706M ($1.1B), or £785 ($1,250) per fan – £200 ($320) more than the average visitor to Britain – with "many arriving during the traditionally quieter period for tourism between January and March." Football was also found "to encourage visitors to explore beyond London, with the stadiums attracting the largest number of overseas fans in the northwest" (GUARDIAN, 10/20).
The Football Association of Thailand confirmed that Liverpool "will play a friendly match in Bangkok next year." FAT President Worawi Makudi said that the Reds will come to Asia for their preseason tour, with Thailand as one of its stops (BANGKOK POST, 10/18). ... Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain has warned Croatian authorities that a hundred "potentially harmful" fans are planning to travel to the Croatian capital for the Champions League game against GNK Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday. PSG had said last month that it would not take any fans to Zagreb, nor sell any tickets for the group-stage match "for security reasons." PSG said in a statement: "In spite of this decision, steady rumours make us fear that a hundred people, all considered potentially harmful, will go to Zagreb on their own for this game" (REUTERS, 10/21).