Some say "the ongoing football fiesta" is a unique opportunity for Thailand, hosting four matches featuring four of Europe's most famous clubs -- ManU, Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona -- according to THE NATION. However, "one question that began to creep into mind is whether the gains for the country are worth the large amount of money spent bringing these teams to Bangkok." No one "would deny that visits by such famous teams will help raise the profile of the country, but it also raises questions whether we have been excessive in bringing four top European clubs in a single year." This issue "came into sharp focus again" after beverage maker Singha Corp. revealed it paid around BT400M ($12.84M) for the visit by Premier League clubs ManU and Chelsea, with whom it has "lucrative sponsorship contracts as global partners." It meant the total cost for bringing the four clubs to Thailand could be just short of BT1B ($32M). But "that sort of money could yield a massive improvement to Thai football if spent on facilities or local development." For Singha, though, "this was money well spent" -- despite being well aware it would incur a huge loss. Singha Int'l Sports Marketing Dir Jaturon Himathon-gkom said, "We would never make profit from holding an exhibition game in our country. Even though tickets for the United game were sold out within four hours of going on sale. What we earned from counter sales barely made up for the expenses. For us, this is not about business -- it's all about 'branding' or something about marketing. And, we arranged these two games to mark the 80th anniversary. So, we're ready to make some sacrifice and put up with the losses" (THE NATION, 7/15).
VIETNAM GREETS ARSENAL: The AFP reported "hundreds of cheering Vietnamese football fans turned out to greet Arsenal on Monday" as it became the first Premier League club to "visit the football-mad communist country." Arsenal arrived at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport and was greeted by Vietnam Football Federation officials, who presented Arsenal "with traditional Vietnamese comical hats and bunches of lotus flowers." To "the delight of fans Vietnam's state-run press," the players and coach Arsene Wenger donned the hats. Hundreds of fans in Arsenal shirts "had been waiting at the airport since Saturday night." The fans "sang Arsenal's song and cheered loudly as the players disembarked from their plane" (AFP, 7/15).
MANU LANDS IN SYDNEY: In Brisbane, Sebastian Hassett reported ManU, "the travelling circus that is the world's biggest sporting club," arrived in Sydney on Sunday. Roughly "only a sixth of those travelling with the club's official delegation are actually players." Just as many belong to the club's media and publicity department. Nothing is "left to chance" (BRISBANE TIMES, 7/14).