October 22 – France’s Ligue 1 giants Lyon and Monaco have agreed to play a regular season domestic league match in China in February next year.
It would be the first time that a European league has played a domestic league fixture outside their national boundary, though no the first time it has been attempted.
LaLiga has twice tried to play regular season games in Miami in the US but has met with opposition from its own national federation, as well as FIFA and Concacaf. The US federation argued that its focus was on building the game and professional leagues in the US, not on providing financial opportunity for foreign leagues to play in their markets.
The LFP plan needs FIFA approval and would see Monaco’s home match against Lyon next February moved to Shanghai.
There has been no statement from the Chinese FA or the AFC, the regional governing body for Asia, as to whether they would approve the fixture.
It seems unlikely as both have made major statements about building their own competitions both in terms of financial support and media coverage, as they also look to improve competitive performance within their professional clubs and national teams on a global scale.
Indeed, the Chinese FA, in a bid to stimulate a wider base of sponsorship investment into its clubs and the Chinese Super League, have forced clubs to drop their owners’ company names from their titles in a bid to remove what has been a major block to expanding sponsorship and end an over reliance on single sources of club finance.
Lyon are part-owned by Chinese investment fund IDG Capital Partners which took a 20% stake in the club in 2016. It is not clear whether they have the political influence to get the match played in China.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, told L’Equipe: “Monaco and we agree to relocate the February match. This is an ambitious operation for the image of the L1 and its dissemination.”
China has hosted a number of pre-season tours by French clubs, while France’s season-opening Trophee des Champions was first played in the country in 2014, again in 2018 in Shenzhen, when PSG beat Monaco 4-0 and in 2019, when Rennes lost to Paris St-Germain 2-1.
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