Heineken backs UEFA Champions Cup Asian tour

The UEFA Champions League trophy will tour Asia for the first time over the next six weeks, visiting five countries to celebrate Europe's premier club competition - while also highlighting the huge interest in football in that region. The UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour - presented by sponsors Heineken - kicked off in the Japanese capital Tokyo and will also take in Jakarta (Indonesia, 1-4 March), Hong Kong (China, 16-18 March), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia, 22-25 March), and the Thai cities of Bangkok (30 March-1 April) and Pattaya (6-8 April).

"The UEFA Champions League is a truly global competition these days, attracting the world's best players, and football is hugely popular in these countries," said Michele Centenaro, UEFA's head of club competitions. "By creating initiatives like the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, we are making the UEFA Champions League more accessible to local football fans and enabling them to share in the magic of Europe's best club competition."

In each country, the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour will be launched to the media and fans. The trophy will then be the centrepiece of a display in the city centre, supported by five pillars containing competition memorabilia, statistics and video footage giving local fans the opportunity to find out more about the tournament and be pictured with the silverware. According to recent research, interest in football is actually higher on average in Asia than in any other continent, including Europe.

Shunsuke Nakamura, the Japanese star who has helped Celtic FC reach the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time, said of the competition: "It's been a great experience so far and was one of the reasons I joined Celtic."