Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cambodia invites FIFA, AFC to observe football poll

South East Asian nation Cambodia has invited foreign observers to oversee elections for a new football association president following a threat by world governing body FIFA to expel the country from international competitions. Football chiefs in the impoverished nation said they had asked FIFA, the Asian Football Confederation and the ASEAN Football Federation to attend the 9 December polls to prove there was no political interference in running the national game.

"We want them to support us to give us legitimacy," Yean Chheang, secretary-general of the Cambodian Football Federation told Reuters. "So we have to invite them to see the re-selection process with their own eyes to end all suspicions they have had in the past. We need to survive, we have to have support from outside," he added.

FIFA threatened to ban Cambodia from international matches and withdraw its support for the cash-strapped CFF after General Sao Sokha, the national Military Police commander and close ally of Prime Minister Hun Sen, was elected to replace Khek Ravy, a politician from the royalist FUNCINPEC party. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the April election had been "flagrantly violated on the grounds of political interference" and called for Khek Ravy to be reinstated. Sao Sokha hit back at Blatter, saying he would not bow his head to FIFA and Cambodia did not need its help. A CFF official said Khek Ravy, CFF head for eight years, will be among the 20 candidates contesting the election.

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