Middle East teams wary of Indonesia and Malaysia

Saudi Arabia was reluctant to commit to playing in the group round stage of this year's Asian Cup finals because it is to be played in Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta. According to the head of international relations of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), the Saudi Arabia government asked for information on the number of fatalities from bird flu in Indonesia. "They were worried about a bird flu plague but we assured them that we definitely would not place them close to a livestock breeding region, chicken coops or birds," Dali Tahir explained, adding that a Saudi request to move their games to another county was refused by the Asian Football Confederation. Instead the three Group D guest teams, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and South Korea will reside in a five star hotel such as the Ritz Carlton or JW Marriot, in the elite Kuningan area of South Jakarta.

Dali Tahir suggested to the PSSI website that participating teams from the Middle East ("especially Arabian countries") are generally "fussy and very worried about anything reported about the country that they will be visiting." He used as a further example a protest from the team of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Asian Football Confederation because they felt the environment of the Bukit Bintang district in Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, was "unclean". The AFC also rejected this issue, he said.

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