With the Premier League followed across the continent, media coverage is vast. As a result, Premier League players are adored like matinee idols, ensuring an ecstatic reception when fans get a rare chance to see them in person.
“They’re like stars, like Hollywood stars coming here. Football fans feel like that,” said Peerawit Anantasirarat, a sports reporter for Thailand’s Modern9 TV. “When John Terry came out, or when Rooney came out at the airport, we’re seeing superstars come here. It’s amazing.”
In Vietnam, hosting a Premier League club for the first time, fans lined up overnight not only for tickets to see Arsenal, but also to meet them at the airport.
Not all has gone smoothly, though. In Indonesia, a promoter was ordered to repay fans who were charged to meet players and in Thailand eyebrows were raised when the prime minister’s young son strode out as a mascot for Chelsea, after also appearing at a coaching clinic by the London club’s stars.