Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Malaysia talks of cancelling Man United tour match

Manchester United will be asked to cancel their July tour match in Malaysia after organisers bowed to mounting pressure from the Asian Football Confederation. "We have to abide by the ruling of the Asian football family. Manchester United can't come in July," Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah told Reuters. Abdullah was speaking just after FIFA president Sepp Blatter and AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam pleaded during the body's Congress for countries to withdraw support for Manchester United's tour of Asia during the 7-29 July AFC Asian Cup.

"If they want to come during that time they can't," Abdullah said. "The sanction has not been given by the AFC and we have to follow it. Manchester United cannot come to Malaysia during the Asian Cup. They will have to rearrange their schedule. ... It is bad news for the fans but it is the feeling of the family of Asia," said Abdullah. "By the look of it the Asian Cup will have to take precedence. We all have to support Mr Bin Hammam's call for Manchester United not to come to Asia at all during the Asian Cup. The feeling is that they have to reschedule," he said.

"Malaysian officials were clearly taken aback by the show of support from the AFC's 45 other members, who all clapped loudly after Blatter and Hammam made their requests," Nazvi Careem reported. "We saw the reaction of the Asian football family and we have no choice," Abdullah said. "Malaysian fans will be disappointed. I sympathise but we know the wishes of the president and we have to support that."

United were due to play in Kuala Lumpur on July 27, two days before the Asian Cup final in Jakarta. The AFC and Football Association of Malaysia last year signed an agreement banning the promotion of any other football event during the Asian Cup.The English Premier League champions are also due to visit Japan, South Korea and Macau.

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