Taiwan’s soccer league gaining interest with lack of games elsewhere

SHOWS:

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (MAY 3, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. TAIPEI STADIUM IN FRONT OF TAIPEI 101 SKYSCRAPER

2. PLAYER PASSING BALL

3. PLAYERS TALKING THEN WALKING OFF

4. VARIOUS OF PLAYERS PRACTISING PASSES

5. VARIOUS OF CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS IN EMPTY RANKS

6. GOALKEEPER WARMING UP

7. BALL LYING UNATTENDED WHILE WARM UP CONTINUES

8. VARIOUS OF GENERAL SECRETARY OF CHINESE TAIPEI FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, FANG CHING-JEN, IN CONVERSATION

9. WARM UP DURING HALFTIME

10. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) GENERAL SECRETARY OF CHINESE TAIPEI FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, FANG CHING-JEN, SAYING:

"I think the key in that Taiwan's league could kick off is that our epidemic prevention has been very successful and that there is a consensus among all citizens regarding this. Because of this, those two sports - our baseball season has also started - could kick off their seasons. Of course, taking advantage of this situation, we have made some adjustments to our live broadcast. For example, every week we will put one men's league soccer match on YouTube with English commentary for everyone to see. I think this is an opportunity. Aside from letting everyone get to know Taiwan, learning that Taiwan actually also has soccer games going on, maybe this also lets people understand Taiwan, no matter whether it be sports or our successes in epidemic prevention."

11. PLAYERS PASSING BALL

12. CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS IN EMPTY RANKS

13. GOALKEEPER PRACTISING

14. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) HEAD COACH OF TATUNG F.C., CHIANG MU-TSAI, SAYING:

"Actually it is better to have people watching in the stadium during the match, so that players can get excited, but because this is a closed-doors match, there's nothing we can do about it. So everyone has to lift their spirits and imagine that there's an audience watching. There are really a lot of people watching, more than 10,000 people are watching the live broadcast, so the effect of that (on the players) is not bad at all."

15. VARIOUS OF PLAYERS PASSING BALL

16. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) HEAD COACH OF TATUNG F.C., CHIANG MU-TSAI, SAYING:

"Because we are not feeling the impact of the epidemic, Taiwan might be the only league worldwide that has started playing. The players feel really good because of that, as in the past no one has been watching Taiwanese soccer games in other countries, even the local audience never exceeded a couple of thousands. Recently there have been more than 10,000 (people watching), so we are very happy that we can introduce Taiwan's league to people everywhere in the world, letting them know that Taiwan has a soccer league."

17. VARIOUS OF TRAINING

18. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TATUNG F.C. PLAYER, ANGE SAMUEL KOUAME, SAYING:

"I think for Taiwan it's a great opportunity as a country, to be known, and definitely a lot of people are watching. I think the first game was like more than 14,000 people online, so I think it's a good opportunity for Taiwan."

19. TATUNG F.C. PLAYERS POSING FOR GROUP PHOTO

20. TAIPEI 101 SKYSCRAPER

STORY: Taiwan's premier soccer league has been attracting interest from fans abroad as one of the few leagues worldwide currently staging behind closed-doors matches during the global COVID-19 pandemic

Soccer, along with Taiwan's national sport of baseball, has been allowed by the authorities to play matches without any fans in attendance since their seasons started in mid-April.

Unlike baseball here, soccer doesn't normally gain much attention in Taiwan, but Tatung F.C. coach Chiang Mu-tsai told Reuters the players were in high spirits due to the relative level of interest, with viewer numbers exceeding the 10,000 mark worldwide.

"In the past no one has been watching Taiwanese soccer games in other countries, even the local audience never exceeded a couple of thousand," he said.

Those fans would have seen Sunday's (May 3) match end in a 5-1 win for Tatung F.C. over NTUS to leave the Taipei-based team in fourth place in the eight-team top division after four rounds of matches.

Taiwan has been comparatively successful in containing the spread of the virus, reporting to date 432 cases and six deaths in a population of around 24 million as of Sunday (May 3).

Video Transcript

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

- [SPEAKING CHINESE]

- [SPEAKING CHINESE]

- Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think for Taiwan it's a great opportunity as a country to be known. And definitely a lot of people are watching. I think the first game was more than 14,000 people online, so I think it's a good opportunity for Taiwan.