News ID: 237797
Published: 0347 GMT January 23, 2019

Empty seats dampen Asian Cup atmosphere

Empty seats dampen Asian Cup atmosphere
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP

Football managers used to screaming themselves hoarse during games are finding little need to reach for a post-match lozenge at the Asian Cup – where their voices echo around sparsely-populated stadia.

This month's tournament in the UAE has struggled to attract crowds, with some coaches grumbling about the swathes of empty seats at the continent's showpiece competition, AFP reported.

"I personally think the atmosphere of the Asian Cup could be a little more enthusiastic, more exciting," Iran boss Carlos Queiroz told reporters.

"To be honest not only me but the Chinese, everyone, has been talking about it. (They) expected much better and a more enthusiastic atmosphere all over the country and at all the stadiums."

Hosted under the slogan "Bringing Asia together", the Asian Cup has so far fallen short of persuading enough of the region's fans to turn up and watch games.

Iran looks one of the teams to beat, but barely 5,000 watched the Asian powerhouse thrash tournament first-timer Yemen 5-0 in their opening game at Abu Dhabi's Mohammed bin Zayed stadium – a venue that seats 40,000.

Barely a thousand more showed up to watch holder Australia and four-time champion Japan reach the quarterfinals, while even host UAE has played at half-empty grounds.

"We were expecting a bigger turnout," Mohammed Khalfan al-Romaithi, chairman of the UAE General Authority for Sports, told AFP.

"We are surprised by the lack of UAE fans too," he admitted in an interview. "This is a culture that I hope will change. Loyalty must always be there – win or lose."

Meanwhile, fans have spoken of being asked by Asian Cup officials to leave their allotted areas to fill seats directly opposite the television cameras.

Just a couple of hundred witnessed Qatar's 6-0 demolition of North Korea in Al Ain as locals snubbed the game and the long-running blockade of the Persian Gulf state by its neighbors meant it was played in an eerie silence.

UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni bizarrely blamed "cold weather" for another disappointing turnout when his side beat Kyrgyzstan 3-2 in extra time to reach the last eight this week.

"Maybe they preferred to stay home and watch it on television," shrugged the Italian, opening another can of worms.

Oman coach Pim Verbeek wanted to watch Asian Cup matches on TV but was puzzled to find they were largely unavailable at hotels, many of which don't show Qatari rights holders beIN Sports.

"It's a pity the games are not on television," shrugged the Dutchman. "I miss that in this tournament."

 

   
KeyWords
 
Comments
Comment
Name:
Email:
Comment:
Security Key:
Captcha refresh
Page Generated in 0/1627 sec