Thailand's cautious welcome to Real Madrid

Thailand newspaper, the Bangkok Post, is not impressed with Real Madrid's preparation for the final game of its summer promotional tour against Thailand's SEA Games side at Rajamangala National Stadium this evening:

The fact that they return to this part of the world so soon after their previous visit two years ago proves that Asia is the favourite destination for European clubs to earn extra income. When the nine-time European champions came to Asia two years ago, they were heavily criticised in some quarters for having only one thing in mind - money.

Real Madrid planned to play in Malaysia but it was called off because the organisers felt that their asking appearance fee was too high. This matter irritated Asian Football Confederation secretary-general Peter Velappan, a Malaysian, who lashed out at the Spanish side labelling them ''blood suckers.''

During their previous visit, they were criticised for playing too many matches in a short period with some critics calling their pre-season campaign money-spinning. When Real players played Thailand, they were apparently exhausted after several games and some of their players looked like they were more interested in returning home. This time round, their schedule looks even worse and appears tailor-made to make as much money as possible in the shortest period.

Their match against Thailand will be their fourth in just seven days. The Spanish team's players has played every other day beginning with their first game in Beijing on Saturday which was followed by two matches in Japan on Monday and Wednesday ...

Thailand is again their last stop and many supporters are worried that Real coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo will rest too many stars and give chances to fringe players. The last time Real Madrid were here, Thai fans were disappointed that they did not see in action Portugal international Luis Figo and Brazil striker Ronaldo, who were both injured.

If they are not injured, the Brazilian coach should give some role to all his superstars in today's match which could be Figo's and England striker Michael Owen's last game in a Real shirt. Their appearance fee is said to be around 70 million baht, or nearly 800,000 baht per minute on the pitch, so the big-name players should do some work ...

... for the visitors, the match may be meaningless but at least they can help suffering people. Each goal they score against Thailand is worth 200,000 baht for the tsunami victims.

Unfortunately, some of their superstars including David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo have complained about the promotional tour of the US and Asia saying it has adversely affected preparations for next season. The last time Real Madrid visited Asia they also made a similar complaint after a stuttering start to the new season.

If the players are not happy with such a pre-season campaign, then they should tell their club bosses not to arrange a trip to Asia.

"Thailand should also think carefully before bringing in European clubs to play here in their pre-season tour of Asia," the newspaper concluded.

"The money paid to the Spanish giants could be more useful for football development in this country which is struggling to get funds for a new local league."