THE ITALIAN champions Juventus and Cup winners Parma will open the Italian season tomorrow when they meet in the traditional Super Cup curtain raiser - in the non-traditional venue of Tripoli in Libya.
The game is normally played in Italy a week before the new season. But after an attractive offer from Libya, the Italian League agreed to play the showcase match abroad for only the second time, following the 1993 encounter between Milan and Torino in Washington DC.
Following Tuesday's decision to delay the start of the Serie A season to 15 September there will be a three week wait, weakening the game's traditional role as a final test for two of the best sides - but in any case the match appears to be more a public- relations exercise for the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as he seeks to improve the image of his country and regain international acceptance.
The Gaddafi family have been showing a growing interest in football as a means to promoting themselves. The investment arm of the Libyan government, the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment company, owns a 7.5 per cent share in Juventus and Gaddafi's son Al-Saadi has become a well-known figure in Italian football, appearing on chat shows and even training with Juventus - he has played for Libya as well as the leading club side Al-Ittihad. The Gaddafi family have been in talks to buy a stake in PAOK Salonica, and Al-Saadi has said Libya intend to make a bid to host the 2010 World Cup, which is expected to be held in Africa. …