New Football League Gets Under Way

The military police football team beat the team from Naga Casino, 1-0, Wednesday, in the opening match of the Cambodian Football Federation Cup at Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium.

The match followed an opening ceremony introducing the 14 participating teams. The 10 teams that have the strongest showing in the tournament will be chosen to participate in a national professional league that likely will kick off in January, football federation President Khek Ravy said.

After two years, the league may expand to 12 teams, and hopefully it can later expand to several divisions, Khek Ravy said.

Participating in the tournament are 10 teams funded by private corporations like Samart, Mild Seven and Shinawatra, as well as three military teams and a team from Kandal province.

“The goal,” said Khek Ravy, “is to have teams that can sustain themselves for a whole season.”

Ideally, the teams would be able to support themselves in international play as well, he said.

Because the teams are funded mostly by private companies, the government doesn’t have to pay for anything, said Christian Ber­ger, country manager for MPA security, which is sponsoring a team. “And it’s not a big investment for the companies or [military] organizations either,” he said.

The league also will provide exposure for the sponsors, as well fill a sports void, Berger said.

In July, the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu agreed to a six-year financial commitment to Cambodian football. Khek Ravy said at the time that the federation was expecting around $100,000.

Some of that money will be allocated for the new national league. The rest will go to youth football and the national team.

The teams have been divided into four groups, from which two teams from each group will emerge from the first round.

Games will take place every afternoon at the Navy Stadium and at the new Football Center, located on National Route 4 and will be officially inaugurated in January. The finals will be held on Oct 22 in the Old Stadium.

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