ESS' deal with the Asian Football Confederation

MUMBAI: Sports broadcaster ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has reached a multi-year agreement with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Asian football fans can tune in to ESS over the next three years for coverage of some of the world's and the region's biggest football tournaments. The AFC package includes the rights for the 2004 Asian Olympic Qualifiers and the Asian World Cup Qualifies (for the 2006 World Cup) as well as the Asian Cup 2004, the biennial Tiger Cup (2004 and 2006) and the biennial Asian Youth Under-20 Championships (2004 and 2006). The package also includes the Asian football weekly magazine show Football Asia . This wil air from April to March 2006.

In all, ESS will air 170 hours of live Asian football action on Star Sports (48-hour delayed basis in China for the World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers and Asian Cup matches). This will reach over 57 million households across Asia claims the broadcaster.

ESS' senior VP programming & Event Management Group Manu Sawhney was quoted in a company release saying, "We already know how strong the appetite for football is in Asia. More and more, Asian football and Asian football players are coming into their own. This became evident after the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea and seems set to continue.

"Our goal through this calendar of Asian football programming is intended to fan the flames of passion through providing Asian fans with an avenue to see their national team compete at the highest standards in their quest to claim a berth on the world's football stage. This series of Asian football tournaments will no doubt be a good barometer of the continually changing balance of power in Asian football."

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