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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Manchester United's Malaysia match to go ahead

Manchester United's Malaysia match to go ahead

Last updated on: May 14, 2007 18:53 IST

Malaysia's soccer body FAM, emboldened by support from the prime minister, will stand up to FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and host Manchester United on July 27, a FAM official said on Monday.

"The FAM respects the wishes of our prime minister, the government and the people that the Manchester United tour will go on in conjunction with celebrations of the 50th anniversary," FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said.

A friendly between United and a Malaysian select team had been arranged in Kuala Lumpur despite it taking place only two days before the AFC's Asian Cup final in Jakarta.

Abdullah had been forced last week to cancel the game by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and AFC chief Mohamed bin Hammam, who said at the AFC Congress that United's presence in Asia would overshadow the July 7-29 Asian Cup tournament.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped in on Friday, however, to insist the English champions' visit go ahead as part of celebrations of Malaysia's 50 years of independence.

"We would like to reiterate that Malaysia's hosting of a single Manchester United match will in no way diminish our commitment towards our hosting of the Asian Cup 2007," Abdullah told a news conference.

AFC representatives at the conference declined to comment.

Abdullah said he expected the FAM would face sanctions from the AFC but added: "This is our 50th anniversary and of course I have to give priority to my government.

"We will promote the Asian Cup and tell Malaysians to go see all the matches." 

The Asian Cup is being co-hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. The last match in Malaysia is a July 25 semi-final.

The FAM believes that by hosting United two days later it will not be in breach of a signed agreement with the AFC not to promote any other football event during the Asian Cup.

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