Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Olympic head calls Australia into Asia "a mistake"

Reacting to the president of FIFA's invitation to Australia's Socceroos to join the next Asian Games, Asia's Olympic chief said he thought the decision to take the Australians under the Asian Football Confederation umbrella was a mistake. "If Australia comes to the Asian Games we are killing about 16 other nations -- New Zealand, all those other small countries -- will not find a good environment for the development of their sport," Ahmad Al-Fahad Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti president of the Olympic Council of Asia told a news conference at the 15th Asian Games reported by TV NZ.

"We have to support Oceania ... to continue to host their games, just to make sure there will be a development sport on the other side of the world in the Asian continent. In Asia there are 45 countries ... it's enough for our Games and competitions, let them develop their sport."

"I think it's a big mistake to bring Australia to our football," Al Sabah said. "It was a big mistake by AFC, maybe they are inside only for the marketing and sponsorship view. "Finance is a major thing but not the most important thing," he added. "The most important thing is the ideas and goals of the (Olympic) movement, then we have to look at sport to look at continued development."

But Al Sabah said an Australian request to take part in the Asian Indoor Games in Macau next October would receive serious consideration. And, earlier this week, OCA vice president Manuel Silverio told China's Xinhua news agency that Australia's participation at the Asian Games was possible.

See also: Socceroos "could be admitted" to Asian Games (2 Dec)

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