Cambodia ‘Not Involved’ in FIFA Turmoil

Days after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his resignation amid a corruption scandal inside world football’s governing body, officials at the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) on Friday distanced themselves from the turmoil and refused to confirm whether they voted for him in last week’s presidential ballot.

FFC president Sao Sokha, who is also National Military Police commander, said he would not reveal how Cambodia—a FIFA member—voted in the secret ballot that reinstalled Mr. Blatter and said his organization was in no way attached to the scandal, which has seen 14 high-ranking officials indicted on bribery, racketeering and money laundering charges. 

“We are not thieves with them, [and] we are not involved with them,” said General Sokha.

“I have no point of view because Cambodia completely fulfilled its role. So whatever they do is just their business,” he added.

When asked whether Cambodian officials had ever taken kickbacks in return for votes, Gen. Sokha reacted angrily.

“Go and ask the event organizer how The Cambodia Daily knew Cambodia voted for Sepp Blatter. The vote was secret,” he said.

“My point of view is that I hate The Cambodia Daily,” he added.

Cambodia—ranked 178th out of 209 FIFA member states—is part of the Asian Football Confederation, which pledged its support for Mr. Blatter in a statement prior to the presidential vote. Football Federation Australia publicly broke with the rest of the AFC, voicing its disappointment after Mr. Blatter was re-elected.

According to the FIFA website, its “Goal Programme” has assisted in five projects in Cambodia since 2000, including the construction of the FFC’s headquarters, which cost $440,797, three projects at the country’s football training facility in Takeo province amounting to just under $1.5 million and the resurfacing of the Olympic Stadium, which cost $500,000.

Khiev Samet, vice-president of the FFC, said he had “no opinion” on the resignation of Mr. Blatter and refused to disclose whether Cambodia had voted for him.

“I have no opinion on [the corruption scandal]. We voted, but I cannot reveal our vote,” Mr. Samet said. “It was a secret vote, so we cannot tell who we vote for.”

Asked if Cambodian officials had ever taken payments to secure the country’s vote, Mr. Samet categorically denied the suggestion and asserted that a $250,000 sum paid by FIFA to the FFC each year is used for development.

“No, absolutely not. We only use it to develop; they fund for football pitches, football school, buildings, something like that,” he said.

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