Italy may discuss staging Serie A match in China

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian football leaders could discuss staging a Serie A match in China when they meet officials from the Asian country this weekend, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The Italian football federation (FIGC) and Serie A will host a meeting on Sunday with officials including Shen Haixiong, president of the China Media Group, a source close to the FIGC said.

They are expected to sign a letter of intent regarding future co-operation which could include providing multimedia content for Chinese media and expertise for Chinese soccer.

Another source said they could explore the possibility of staging a Serie A match in China.

The FIGC and Serie A did not immediately reply to requests for official comment. Such a move is likely to need approval from the Asian and European soccer confederations as well as global soccer body FIFA.

The talks will take place on the sidelines of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Rome.

Xi is set to sign a deal on Saturday that will mean Italy becomes the first member of the Group of Seven major industrialised nations to join China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project (BRI).

Besides the BRI accord, various deals worth up to 7 billion euros (6.03 billion pounds) are expected to be agreed.

Last year, 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 Super Cup match — the annual meeting of the Serie A champions and Coppa Italia winners — abroad, with Saudi Arabia hosting the most recent game in January.