World Football: Should the FA Move the Community Shield Match Overseas?
The FA Community Shield is the unofficial kick-off to the English football season every year.
Usually, the match between the winners of the Premier League and the FA Cup is held at Wembley Stadium in London.
However, the 2012 edition of the Community Shield will be held at Villa Park in Birmingham because of the use of Wembley for the Summer Olympics.
With the competition not being held at Wembley and in the shadow of the closing of the Olympics in London, fewer people than usual will be paying attention to Sunday's match.
That situation raises the question: Should the FA explore moving the Community Shield match overseas?
Moving the match overseas would not be an original idea, as the French and Italian versions of the match have already been played overseas.
The Italians were the first to move their season-opening competition overseas in 1993. That year, it was played at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
In recent years, the Supercoppa Italiana has moved to Beijing, China in three of the past four seasons, including Saturday's contest between Serie A winners Juventus and Coppa Italia winners Napoli.
Another competition that has moved overseas is the Trophee des Champions, a match where the winners of Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France take each other on.
Ever since 2009, the French version of the Community Shield has been played overseas with every year seeing a different host.
In 2012, the competition moved from North Africa to Northern New Jersey. The match between Montpellier and Lyon took place at Red Bull Arena, home of the New York Red Bulls.
The other two big leagues in Europe, Germany and Spain, have not made the move overseas for two different reasons.
Germany's DFL-Super Cup was just reinstated in 2010 and is played domestically. The 2012 version between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is being played at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.
In Spain, the Supercopa de Espana has a totally different format, as it is a two-leg final and is usually played between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
So, the real question for the FA is whether they should even consider sending the Community Shield overseas.
In most years, the answer would be "no" because Wembley is such a historic and meaningful venue to English football.
The argument could be made that both Italy and France are trying to expand their fan bases overseas in markets like China and America, and that is why both of those countries play their competitions away from home.
The English have no real need to expand their brand in the way that their counterparts do.
England's Premier League is already recognizable in markets like China and America. Pre-season tours by individual clubs are enough to spread the brand of the Premier League.
Just like in Germany and Spain, England have no need to move their kick-off competition away from their homeland.
The 2012 Community Shield match may not gain much attention because of its location or the date, but that is because England will be putting the finishing touches on a great sporting spectacle.
Once 2013 comes around, the Community Shield will be back at Wembley and England will bask in the glory of being the world's top footballing nation, at least when it comes down to domestic competitions.
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