Saturday, May 05, 2007

Malaysian FA's conflicts in Champions Youth Cup

The Football Association of Malaysia has disclosed that it originally opposed the tournament called the Champions Youth Cup. FAM General Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur reported by Eric Samuel of The Star, that when "the event was initially known as the G14 tournament last March" FAM had "informed FIFA of our disapproval" as the G14 group, which represents 18 of Europe’s top clubs, is not recognised by FIFA or UEFA. But "after the organisers – UK-based Gifted Group Limited – decided to change the competition from a G14 event to CYC which will include teams from Europe, Asia and South America" FAM then "requested for FIFA’s sanction of the event" which resulted in FIFA's approval on 8 March.

So why did FIFA about-turn and revoke its sanction on 30 April? According to Christopher Raj of the New Straits Times, it was all due to a breakdown in communications. "FIFA withdrew its decision ... after purportedly receiving a letter from event manager ProEvents International which stated that it was not involved in the CYC but G14 was," he wrote.

FAM General Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad further clarified: "Somehow, ProEvents [which is responsible for bringing Manchester United to Kuala Lumpur on 27 July] got involved in the whole issue. The letter it sent to FIFA stating that G14 was involved caused the withdrawal of the sanction. I sincerely hope that FIFA and AFC [Asian Football Confederation] will look into this situation and give us a positive answer. This is a national project and the FAM is only defending the government’s involvement in this tournament," he told a press conference.

Remarkably, this is similar to the excuse presented by the FAM in response to the AFC's objection to the 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


UPDATE

Despite FAM's claim that the G14 tournament had metamorphosed into a different CYC tournament "which will include teams from Europe, Asia and South America," Rizal Hashim of the Malay Mail wrote on 2 May: "Although the organisers claimed the tournament had nothing to do with G-14, a loose coalition of top European clubs, the teams bound for Kuala Lumpur are members of the group, while G-14 general manager Thomas Kurth was present during the launch and again at the draw."

The website of the Champions Youth Cup is also still accessed though the front page of the G14 website. "The Champions Youth Cup is the inspiration of, and is endorsed by G14, the grouping of Europe's major clubs," it states. The event will now feature "16 teams composed of 11 European teams (G14 members), 2 teams from South America, the hosts Malaysia, a host invitee team from Europe and a host invitee team from Asia."

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