Torres: La Liga matches should start earlier

MADRID - Spain's La Liga must push ahead with plans for earlier kick-off times if it wants to compete with the English Premier League in Asia and the Middle East, according to Spain striker Fernando Torres.

"La already lagging behind in not playing matches at 3 p.m.," Torres, who plays for English club Liverpool, said in an interview published in Saturday's As newspaper.

"The Premier League has the best media profile in the world. Part of that success is down to the times of the matches which means they can be watched all around the world, especially in Asia and the Middle East."

La Liga games involving Real Madrid and Barcelona often kick off at 2200 Spanish time (0400 in Beijing) and the professional soccer league has said it is considering playing some matches earlier to tap into global markets.

Real director Emilio Butragueno said last month the club wanted earlier matches and that the arrival of star players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka had created an opportunity for clubs to boost their earnings abroad.