Contributed by: Aaron Richard
United Arab Emirates newspaper the Gulf News reported on January 28th this year that the AFL are currently planning a match between AFL clubs Collingwood and Adelaide in the second week of February 2008 in the UAE city of Dubai, home to Collingwood's major sponsor Emirates Airlines, around 15,000 expatriate Australians and the newly-formed Dubai Dingoes footy club. An AFL match in Dubai has been mooted on a number of occasions, but this appears to be the closest it's come to happening to date.
Original article can be read here.
AFL in the process of hosting Aussie Rules match
By Alaric Gomes, Staff Reporter
Dubai: The Australian Football League (AFL) is in the process of putting final touches on hosting an exhibition Aussie Rules match here in February next year.
Gillon McLachlan, Chief Broadcasting and Commercial Officer of the AFL told Gulf News that the proposal is to bring in high-profile teams Collingwood and Adelaide during the second week of February 2008.
"We are already in talks with companies to sponsor such a high-quality match. Peter Linford (the Australian Consul General) has been working with us closely and we are certain this will be a huge success for an emerging market like Dubai," McLachlan said.
As per rough estimates, there are more than 15,000 Australians currently residing in the UAE. "This exhibition game is about sport and business coming together. Places like Dubai are the new markets for Aussie Rules football," McLachlan explained.
Collingwood, incidentally, has the backing of Emirates as a major sponsor since 1999 when the Dubai-based airline launched its services to Australia.
Aussie Rules football has been slowly expanding around the globe with countries such as New Zealand, Samoa, Japan, South Africa, US and Papua New Guinea already regular participants at the Aussie Rules World Cup.
"We spend between $2-3 million annually in the international market to promote this sport. It's a very athletic sport and people embrace it so well," he added.
South Africa alone has 10,000 people playing Aussie Rules football with two fulltime employees running affairs there.
Editor: note there are a couple of errors in the story - the "World Cup" referred to is the International Cup, and player numbers are somewhat less than 10,000 in South Africa, though there are targets to reach and go well beyond that mark in the next few years.
World Footy News