Sunday, May 27, 2007

FIFA's Blatter congratulates Man Utd "decision"

With still no official statement from English Premier League club Manchester United that it has abandoned its scheduled 27 July friendly against a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur, the President of football's world body, FIFA, has congratulated the club on not proceeding.

"I compliment Manchester United on their decision not to go there. Their other matches on the tour in Japan, Macau and Korea will go ahead. Those matches do not conflict with any Asian Cup matches," Sepp Blatter told a news conference in Zurich.

"We were able to convince Manchester United that the international calendar reserves the second half of June and the whole of July for the confederations. We have nothing against clubs touring other countries, of course, but at that time in Malaysia the United match virtually clashes with the semi-final of the Asian Cup," he said as quoted by Reuters.

The Asian Football Confederation previously expressed its disappointment with Manchester United's entire 17-27 July Asian match program clashing with the Asian Cup during 7-29 July but could only restrict the final game as the Football Association of Malaysia, backed by the Government of Malaysia, had signed a binding co-hosting contract agreeing not to promote any other football activity for the entire month of July.

The AFC has also indicated that it regards the scheduling of the English Premier League's annual Barclay's Asian Trophy in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region during 24-27 July as also highly inappropriate. The series, featuring three EPL clubs and the Hong Kong FA Cup winner, will be played on days either side of the Asian Cup's critical Semi-Finals which may feature top East Asian nations Japan, South Korea and China and AFC newcomer Australia.

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