Global interest in the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) amid global COVID-19 lockdowns that have left soccer fans bereft of live action is good news for the league and Taiwanese players, CTFA general secretary Fang Ching-jen says.
“The government and Taiwanese took the coronavirus outbreak seriously and followed disease prevention measures rigorously so that Taiwan could shine on the world stage. Because of these effective policies and actions, it was possible for Taiwan’s top soccer leagues, both men’s and women’s, to start the season on time. Therefore we have an opportunity for many nations to learn more about the development of soccer in Taiwan,” Fang told the Taipei Times at the weekend.
“Clubs in both the men’s and women’s top leagues have signed more foreign players in recent years, and they have taken up vital roles and boosted the level of play. We are delighted that the international community is taking more of an interest in Taiwan, and also in our soccer leagues,” Fang said.
The CTFA is very willing to share with other nations its experiences getting the soccer season started, such as the preparation of stadiums, and disease prevention measures for players, coaches and match officials, given that other professional leagues in Europe, Asia and elsewhere are preparing to resume later this month or next month, Fang said.
“As we had an opportunity for worldwide exposure, we provided match broadcasts in Chinese and English from the second round of games last month,” he said. “Taiwan’s leagues have gained a new audience, fans in other nations, looking at the viewing figures for our online streaming YouTube channel CTFA.TV.”
“We have had a surge in viewership numbers from Italy, the UK, Russia, Poland and other nations in recent weeks,” he added. “This will have a positive effect, as Taiwanese players in the TFPL have a higher global exposure. Through the international broadcasts, we hope to attract more foreign players to come and play in Taiwan. That would be very good for us, for the TFPL to advance to the next level, to boost competitiveness and provide more entertaining matches for an international audience.”
The TFPL has also caught the attention of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, as the pandemic has shut down most professional leagues in Asia and Europe, Fang said.
“Checking the viewing figures for Asia, we have gained viewers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. We want to thank the fans in these nations for their support and continued interest in Taiwanese soccer,” he said.
Figures are not available for China, due to the Chinese government’s restrictions on video streaming sites such as YouTube, he added.
Plans are being considered for local supporters to be allowed to attend TFPL matches, such as in the professional baseball league, Fang said, as the government and health authorities approve the opening up of more sectors after more than a month without any local infections.
“However, the facilities and hardware requirements for ballparks are very different from soccer stadiums, so we have to take care of the details and implement strict conditions,” he said. “We are studying ways for fans to attend the games, the required disease prevention measures and the capacity limitations at each ground.”
The CTFA plans to meet with the Sports Administration to discuss allowing fans to attend TFPL matches, he said.
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