ROME (Reuters) – Serie A matches are unlikely to be played in China in the near future although matches in the less prestigious Coppa Italia could be, the head of Italy’s soccer league said on Sunday.
Sources close to the Italian federation said on Friday that the possibility of playing a Serie A match in China within the next three years would be discussed at a meeting with Chinese officials on Sunday.
However, after the meeting, Serie A president Gaetano Micciche ruled out the possibility.
“I don’t think it’s a road we can travel in the next few years,” he told reporters. “We could discuss the Supercup or some Coppa Italia matches.”
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis suggested that the opening rounds of Serie A matches should be staged in other European countries.
“I’d use August to play a few Serie A matches around Europe,” he said. “Why not start the Serie A season in Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid or Barcelona?”
“Italian fans would not lose out as most of them are at the beach in any case.”
Last year, Spain’s La Liga announced plans to stage a game between Catalan neighbours Girona and Barcelona in Miami but ran into opposition from the Spanish federation. Barcelona, who had initially backed the plan, then withdrew their support.
In December, CONMEBOL moved the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors to Madrid after crowd trouble outside the stadium in Buenos Aires caused the original game to be called off.
Italy regularly stages its Supercup — the annual meeting of the Serie A champions and Coppa Italia winners — abroad, with Saudi Arabia hosting the most recent game in January.
The fixture has already been played four times in China, twice in Qatar and once each in Libya and the United States.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Clare Fallon)