Perspectives

Lingerie Football League plans teams in Asian cities

Lingerie Football League Eyes India Expansion

After raising eyebrows in B.C.’s bible belt city of Abbotsford, the much hyped Lingerie Football League (LFL) is now setting its sights on forming teams in Asian cities.

League officials have said that within Asia their immediate target territories are Japan, China, South Korea, India and Thailand. China and Japan are both slated to host LFL exhibition game tours in 2013.

The BC Angels take on the Regina Rage when the season kicks off Aug. 25 at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre. The other teams in LFL Canada are Saskatoon Sirens and Toronto Triumph.

Xinhua reported that China will get a close-up look at the Lingerie Football League in December when the upstart American circuit undertakes a three-game swing through Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong with a long-term view to forming an Asia league.

Described by league founder Mitchell Mortaza as a “hybrid of American football meets Gladiators,” the three-year-old LFL, featuring lingerie-clad women in football equipment, has aggressively been building a “global footprint” through expansion.

In addition to the  four-team Canadian league that is launching next week, an Australian circuit will be added in 2013, with “LFA Europa” following in 2014.
Mortaza told Xinhua the sport will truly be international as the inaugural LFL “World Bowl” will be played July 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It will feature the respective champions of the Canada, Australia, Europe and U.S. leagues.

The championship will be held every four years to coincide with soccer’s World Cup.

It’s definitely a very unique approach to a very violent sport,” Mortaza said of his product that has been described as sexist and degrading to women by its detractors.

Unlike traditional football games that can take up to three hours, LFL features teams of seven playing on an indoor ice hockey rink-like field that is very much a party setting. The 90-minute games features a DJ pumping the music to the fast-paced action that is big on hits, passing and lots of trash talking with the players, coaches and officials all fitted with microphones.

With a national TV contract with the MTV Networks since its first season, and the coverage taking the fans inside the locker room at half-time, the 38-year-old Mortaza calls the access “incredible.”

It’s fast-paced. It’s played by some of the best female athletes in the world. They’re all former collegiate athletes. They just happen to be beautiful and charismatic and the combination of all that really translates, not only to hardcore and casual football fans, but more importantly for us to a large contingency of people who otherwise could care less about American football.

Mortaza introduced lingerie football to the world in 2003 as a television special opposite the Superbowl halftime show. With the pay-per-view program drawing “as many as 43 million viewers,” its success set in motion a 12-team U.S. league that launched in 2009.

With all of the teams owned by the league, the LFL has had its growing pains in the initial years with strong franchises drawing 10,000 to 15,000 fans a game, and others either folded or temporarily suspended.

All the players are currently amateur but are allowed to seek out individual endorsement deals. Mortaza hope in the next two to three seasons he can revert his business model to a professional one where the athletes get paid.

China, without doubt, Mortaza noted, has tremendous potential for his sport with its booming economy.

We’re going to first introduce the game in the form of exhibition games, which is what we always do before we go into a territory. And then, who knows, China might have a national team that’ll compete in LFL Asia,” he said, according to Xinhua.

Obviously it’s a completely different market, but as long as we have the government’s blessing, which it appears we do now.”

Full details of the China LFL tour will be announced at a press conference in Macao next month.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Island-based CHEK-TV station said it will carry nine LFL games, on tape delay, each Saturday night at 8: 30 p.m. beginning Sept. 1.

This article first appeared HERE.