In a bid to increase the global outreach of Italian soccer’s top-flight, talks are being held to try and kick off the 2015-16 domestic season in 10 foreign cities.
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Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is the man who has revealed the ambitious plans from Serie A directors, as cities such as New York, London, Paris, Shanghai, Jakarta and Beijing have been touted as possible venues to host a league match on Aug. 22-23, the opening weekend of the 2015-16 campaign.
De Laurentiis revealed the plans to a local radio station in Naples and said that “we’re verifying the feasibility of the project, which aims to help Italian football recover from a rough period.”
Italian soccer has been riddled with match-fixing allegations, racism, financial issues and falling attendances in recent years as the prestige of Serie A’s has been impacted dramatically. Would this stunt really help Serie A’s image across the planet? Maybe.
The Premier League has often flirted with the idea of playing the so-called “39th game” overseas but has since put that proposal on the back-burner but as Italy’s top-flight falls further behind La Liga, the PL and the Bundesliga in terms of cash-flow, attendance figures and many other factors, they must think outside the box and try new things to try and reinvigorate fans and entice people into watching the league once again.
Targeting specific cities which have big Italian populations and a love for soccer is key if this plan is to work, and if it does come off and succeed, who says it won’t open up the opportunity for plenty of other leagues (Spain, Germany, England) to try and play a weekend of matches overseas to help boost revenues and take their product to new markets?
You only have to look at MLB games being played in Japan, NHL games in Scandinavia and the NFL heading to London several times as a season to see commercial success can be had from making trips far and wide. Whether or not this move is popular with soccer fans in Italy remains to be seen but I for one applaud Serie A’s creative thinking and ability to at least talk about stepping into the unknown.