• Wednesday, 26 September 2012

    Paid to sing - Football UAE style

    The fledgling football league of the United Arab Emirates is undergoing a revolution in terms of the matchday experience. Fans are encouraged to join in with a dedicated band to generate more of a European-style matchday experience with food, drink and cash incentives on offer.

    The league has attracted plenty of attention in recent season with Asamoah Gyan and Grafite among the big names to move there with competition coming from gas-rich neighbour Qatar. Al Jazira, the biggest side in the Emirates, defend the payment of fans with spokesman Aki Al Nuaimi saying "This is not for us to fill the stadium, but to change the attitude of the fans. We want the matches to be an entertaining experience for the fans".

    There were similar intiatives in Japan and South Korea after the J- and K-Leagues were set up, although stopping short of paying fans, to try to engender that fan culture Europeans take for granted.

    Observers will be monitoring the success or otherwise of the Emirati experiment and if successful, it may be exported to Arsenal.

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