Cambodian Football To Back World President

A Cambodian football official said Tuesday that the Cambodian Football Federation intends to back embattled FIFA President Joseph Blatter in his bid for re­election later this month.

The vote is one in which the Cam­bodian federation’s voice will carry as much weight as the other 203 members of world football’s governing body.

Blatter sought support from Asian soccer officials, including Cambodian Football Federation president Khek Ravy, last month in Thailand. Khek Ravy said that he expected nine of the 10 Asean football federations would back Blatter.

Khek Ravy attributes the very existence of a Cambodian federation to Blatter. “In 1994, the [Cam­bodian Football Federation] did not exist,” he said. “It was only through a $1 million grant from FIFA that we came into the world arena. And we feel that with Blatter, the development of football is easier for small countries like Cambodia.”

Blatter also visited Cam­bodia last June to deliver a $400,000 grant that is being used to help construct a technical and ad­min­is­trative center on 3.3 hec­tares of land located about 3 km west of Pochentong Airport.

Blatter has garnered Asian support for his reelection through a pledge to guarantee five automatic berths for Asian teams in the 2006 World Cup.

Currently, Blatter is at the center of a controversy surrounding his involvement in the financial collapse of long-standing FIFA marketing partner ISL-ISMM, which led to an internal audit of FIFA’s finances. Last week Blatter was accused of corruption, financial mismanagement and cronyism by FIFA General Secretary Mi­chel Zen-Ruffininen in a confidential 21-page report that was leaked to Reuters.

Khek Ravy said he was unconcerned with the accusations against Blatter, calling them politically motivated. Last year at a football congress in Buenos Ai­res, Argentina, Khek Ravy said, “Blat­ter an­swered all our questions [about the scandal]. The congress agreed that his answers were adequate, and the [Cambodian] executive committee agreed that Blatter is worth four more years.”

Blatter, who has been FIFA president since 1998, is up for reelection on May 29. His opponent is Issa Hayatou of Cam­eroon.

Meanwhile, the Nestle corporation, the world’s largest food and beverage company, on Monday an­nounced its sponsorship of Cam­bodia’s first ever youth football league. The youth league will be active for two months this year and is comprised of eight teams from primary schools in and around Phnom Penh.

Nestle presented the Cam­bo­dian Football Federation with a check for $2,500 in support of the league and announced it will also provide support services surrounding the event.

Competition will kick off at 8 am May 12 at the Preah Sisowath High School. After all the teams play one another, the top four will meet in an elimination playoff.

The goal of the league, said Nestle and Cambodian Football Federation officials, is to establish a Cambodian Under-14 team that will be prepared to compete in international play by next year.

(Additional reporting by The Asso­ciated Press)

Related Stories

Latest News