ASEAN football officials reject Velappan's criticism

South East Asian football officials have hit back at Asian Football Confederation general secretary Datuk Peter Velappan for his comments about the state of the game in the region. In his speech at the opening ceremony of the FIFA Futuro 111 Course on 13 February, Velappan criticised ASEAN members for lagging behind other Asian countries.

According to the Malay Mail (Malaysia), a joint statement critical of Velappan, signed by all 23 ASEAN participants of the course, was made available to media and has since been sent to FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter and copied to AFC.

"The jarring thing about his criticism is that he has been the AFC secretary general for the past 27 years during which time he did little or nothing to uplift standards in Asean," read the statement.

"Only after the formation of the ASEAN Football Federation in 1994 and the inception of the FIFA Goal Project earlier this decade have AEAN countries been able to plan and implement systematic programs for football development. For Velappan to gratuitously rap us on our knuckles on an occasion wholly inappropriate for that purpose is tantamount to the discharge of personal rancour in a public forum. This is most unfortunate.

“A glance at the FIFA world ranking shows a few ASEAN nations are ahead of several other members of AFC and at the Futuro III seminar, the development plans presented by some ASEAN members were perceived to be comprehensive.”

See also: Program promotes 'business of football' in ASEAN (14 Feb)