One of Asia’s leading sports executives and a football guru for the “beautiful game”, has joined the Association for International Broadcasting [AIB] as an adviser.

Les Murray (right) is known in his adopted homeland – Australia – as “Mr. Football”. He will provide a wide range of skills for the AIB as it develops its new Asian base.

In a rapidly expanding Asian market for sport, Murray’s experience in football will be vital to expanding the interests of the AIB, said its Chief Executive Simon Spanswick.

“Les will play a crucial role in our plans for Asia, especially with football properties. We intend to be an aggressive player in the market,” Spanswick said from London.

Mr. Murray was until recently the chair of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union’s Sports Group (ABU), a position from which he retired after 12 years.

Mr. Murray, a Fifa Ethics Commissioner, is something of a legend in Asia, having covered football there for 30 years.

“We are delighted to have Les on board our new broadcast vehicle ,” said Spanswick. “He will add a tremendous amount of value to our brand, as well as our ability to attract new business,” he added.

Les Murray’s interest in sports broadcasting has roots in his boyhood love for football in his birthplace of Hungary.

After immigrating to Australia as a child refugee in 1957, he continued his passion for his beloved game and made it a life mission to convert Australians to the world’s favourite sport.

Ultimately, after he stepped into broadcasting in the late 1970s as commentator and sports presenter, the mission met with success through the exposure he brought to football on Australian television. Murray is now largely credited with football’s vast growth in awareness and popularity in his adopted country over the past 30 years.

In 1996 Murray was appointed head of sport at Australia’s multicultural broadcaster, SBS, and continued in that role for ten years. During that period he negotiated many major sports rights deals, including three FIFA World Cup contracts, the UEFA Champions League, the Tour de France and international athletics with the IAAF.

Murray has spoken at many international forums, including the United Nations, and in 2006 was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to football and sports journalism. In 2009 he was given the Australian Sports Commission’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Said Murray: “I am delighted to accept this invitation by the AIB and be given the opportunity to work with broadcasters in Asia.

“Sport and, in particular, sports broadcasting are fabulous catalysts for advancing and enriching national cultures and for empowering cultural identities.

“I am thrilled to be able to assist Asian broadcasters in achieving these goals.”