Italy’s Serie A wants to organise a tournament in the United States during this year’s World Cup, using players not called up by their national sides, as it seeks to boost its international profile, chief executive Luigi De Siervo said.
Qatar will host the World Cup from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18, forcing major European leagues such as Serie A to take an unusual, prolonged break during their domestic season.
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“We want to keep our players fit while promoting ourselves in a market which we consider strategic,” De Siervo told Reuters.
All the 20 clubs in Serie A would participate with players not involved with their national teams in Qatar.
“Fixtures would be scheduled to avoid any overlap with the World Cup calendar,” De Siervo added, referring to the kick-off times, adding that discussions were still at the early stages but potential media partners had been sounded out.
The North American market has become increasingly important for Serie A with Italy’s oldest soccer team Genoa last year becoming the sixth top-league side under U.S. ownership, joining AC Milan, Fiorentina, AS Roma, Spezia and Venezia, while Canadian Joey Saputo runs Bologna.
The tournament would begin in Orlando a week after the start of the World Cup and would include group stages followed by knockout matches from the quarterfinals.
With some 85 Italy-based players likely to be involved in the World Cup, Serie A would have some 570 others available to join the U.S. tournament, Serie A head of competitions Andrea Butti said.
To beef up teams whose ranks had been reduced by national team call-ups, the Italian league is exploring ways to get authorisations for temporary loan agreements for players from other national competitions.
A final decision on the project, which would need to get approval from UEFA and other continental soccer bodies, could be taken within two months, Butti said.
Serie A is striving to catch up with other major European leagues such as the English Premier League and Spain’s LaLiga, whose popularity abroad has surged in recent years, boosting their revenue.
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