Thursday, May 03, 2007

Malaysian FA to appeal against FIFA CYC ban

The Football Association of Malaysia will appeal to the world football body to re-sanction the Champions Youth Cup scheduled for 8-19 August at four venues across the country. FIFA, after having sanctioned the tournament earlier, withdrew it and has asked FAM to not only state its reasons for wanting to host the tournament but also to explain the G-14 (an association of top European clubs) role in the youth event. According to the state-owned newsagency Bernama, the tournament is "a joint effort of the Sports Ministry, Tourism Ministry and the FAM". However FAM now argues that it is not a partner.

"We have received the [FIFA] letter and I will reply. It’s a difficult situation as after receiving the earlier sanction letter, we informed the promoters that everything was in order," said FAM General Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad when contacted by Christopher Raj of the New Straits Times. "We have obligations to the promoters and the government. As far as the CYC is concerned, the reason for hosting it is because it is a national project undertaken by the Sports and Tourism ministries in line with Visit Malaysia Year 2007 and the nation’s 50th Merdeka celebrations. FAM is only providing technical assistance."

According to Raj, there is now a belief that a major reason the sanction was withdrawn is the Asian Cup which Malaysia is co-hosting in July. "The Asian Football Confederation is believed to be unhappy with the CYC as it fears it will overshadow the Asian Cup. FAM also has a signed agreement with AFC that no other tournament would be held or promoted during the duration of the Asian Cup. But the CYC’s promoters, Gifted Price Limited, has assured FAM and AFC that it will not promote the tournament during the Asian Cup," he wrote.

Ibrahim echoed the same sentiment. "FAM is in no way going to promote the CYC as our only concern is the Asian Cup, which we have assured AFC time and again. But we have a moral and social obligation to the Government in helping ensure the CYC is a success," he said. This is also the excuse presented by the FAM in response to the AFC's objection to a promotional game Manchester United will play in Kuala Lumpur during the Asian Cup. The MU game is scheduled for 27 July - just two days after Kuala Lumpur completes its hosting of an Asian Cup group round and semi-final and two days before neighbouring Jakarta hosts the final and the AFC has reminded FAM that its contract to host the Asian Cup clearly stated it could not sanction or promote any other footballing event during the tournament.

On 26 April FAM's Deputy President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Sha reportedly said "the agreement to bring United to Malaysia was initiated by the Tourism Ministry. We have been asked to provide logistical support and we will. United were scheduled to play here on July 25 but the organisers took the initiative to change the date. I hope the AFC understands that we are committed to the Asian Cup but we have to also support the Government’s initiative." He added he wasn't worried about possible [AFC] sanctions

FIFA has given FAM till tomorrow to submit its appeal, which will be discussed at the world body’s Exco meeting on the same day. Ibrahim said FAM will also appeal on the grounds that the earlier go-ahead from FIFA has already resulted in the promoters and teams preparing for the tournament.


UPDATE

Malaysia's Youth and Sports Ministry will not assist in lobbying the president of FIFA, Joseph Sepp Blatter, for the rights to host the Champions Youth Cup.

"I'm not involved in this matter. I leave it to the organisers. Any lobbying will be done by the organisers. This is not within the jurisdiction of the government or ministry. We only support the organisation of the championship because of the 50th National Day celebrations together with the Tourism Ministry as we find that the program has the potentials to promote Malaysia to the world," said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

"I understand that FAM will make an official letter today to brief FIFA so that the world body can raise the matter at its board meeting," she told Bernama newsagency. However FAM claims it is not a partner in the event.

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