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FIFA says it will investigate Premier League plan to hold overseas games

ZURICH, Switzerland -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter said
soccer's world governing body will investigate an English Premier
League proposal to organize additional domestic matches in foreign
countries.

The Premier League club owners announced Thursday that they
might each play an extra league game during midseason -- adding a
39th round to the schedule -- with the matches in five different
cities around the world. If approved, the games will start in the
2010-11 season.

The announcement led to opposition from fan clubs and strong
criticism by the British media. Now FIFA has said it will take a
close look at the plans.

"FIFA expects an official documentation on the topic from the
English FA, as the football governing body in England," it said in
a statement. "The matter will be then submitted to the FIFA
Executive Committee at its next meeting on March 14 in Zurich and
analyzed on the basis of the provisions existing about the relevant
topic in the FIFA Statutes and Regulations."

The FIFA regulations say that no teams can play matches on the
territory of another country without its permission.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he wanted more
consideration of the idea before the Premier League made its plan
public.

"If they're going to do these things, they should inquire and
take a discussion with managers and players before they come out
with all this stuff," he said. "This should be discussed
internally by clubs before we come to this position we're in
today."

Opponents to the plan say it is based on greed rather than the
stated intention of globalizing the Premier League to places like
the United States, Japan and South Korea, where people already
watch the games live on TV.

It would also mean flying players thousands of miles just to
play one game.

Another objection is that it would be unfair if, for example,
Manchester United had an easy game against a relegation-threatened
team while its main title contenders Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool
faced each other.