Debate intensifies over ASEAN 'unprofessionalism'

The sacking of four top South East Asian clubs from the Asian Football Confederations' Asian Champion's League is intensifying debate within ASEAN over the lack of professionalism at both the national association and club levels. Thailand's 2005 champions Thai Tobacco Monopoly FC and runners-up Provincial Electricity Authority FC and Indonesian champion Persipura and cup winner Arema Malang were disqualified from the tournament after failing to submit their paperwork to the AFC by the 12 February deadline. However the clubs claim they were not informed correctly by the football associations and, in at least the case of Arema, documents were submitted in time but not passed on to the AFC.

In Indonesia, hundreds of Arema fans rallied in the Malang city in populous East Java province, demanding heads roll at the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) which they blame for the fiasco. Some 400 Arema fans took their protest to the Malang City Council, where several representatives met with councillors to ask that they back their demand for changes in the management of PSSI, Malang policeman Suwardi told AFP. “The number is about 400 and the protest is proceeding in an orderly and peaceful manner,” he said.

The Arema fan club website said that fans would Sunday head to the capital Jakarta, where the PSSI headquarters is based. They will demand that the management resign. It added that the fan club would ask Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take over the PSSI until new bosses were appointed.

In Thailand, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) denied allegations by TTM FC and PEA FC that the FAT is unprofessional, claiming that the association did not get enough co-operation from both teams. "It was very difficult to contact them, especially the TTM," said an FAT official. "The PEA brought their documents to the association on 10 February, but there were some mistakes with the players' list so the papers were returned to the club.

"FAT staff informed the PEA that the correct documents had to be re-submitted on the following day [Saturday] or even Sunday, which was the deadline, but they came back on 14 February. In the case of TTM, the FAT sent notifications several times but all we got was silence," the official told The Nation.

AFC sent the FAT a letter on 5 January informing them that the clubs must submit players' lists before the deadline and the association claimed it forwarded that information to the clubs two days later. On 24 January the AFC sent the regulations and details of registration to the FAT, who acknowledged the documents on 25 January before notifying the clubs to take them.

See also: ASEAN clubs slam 'unprofessional' associations (1 Mar)