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Friday, February 23, 2007
Mighty Kazakhstan to invest in Euro game

ALMATY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Rakhat Aliyev, the powerful son-in-law of Kazakhstan's president, said on Friday he was looking to buy a 'stable' European soccer club and had been in talks with Belgium's Excelsior Mouscron.

Aliyev, who last week for the first time publicly confirmed his ownership of a host of Kazakh media firms and a large stake in an international sugar trading company, said he wanted to buy a European club to help the Central Asian state's domestic game.

'We're looking for a stable European club on the basis of which we can build national football, so Kazakh players can play quick modern football in the top flight of Western Europe,' Aliyev said in comments printed by his Kazakhstan Today news agency.

'Talks with Mouscron have not so far led to any concrete results,' he said, answering questions sent in by readers.

Mouscron had not provided enough data on its finances and he had doubts about the deal on offer, he said without elaborating.

The Belgian side, 15th in the 18-team league, is a much more modest prospect than billionaire Russian businessman Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea in 2003, but Aliyev's interest reflects Kazakhstan's growing financial clout.

Aliyev, who heads Kazakhstan's Football Association and negotiated the former Soviet state's accession to UEFA in 2002, said it would take time to build the national game in the rapidly growing oil-rich nation of 15 million.

'We don't have the same possibilities as Los Angeles Galaxy which just bought David Beckham for 50 million,' he said.

'We have to build up our own players and that will take time, money and unstinting effort.'




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