AFF/WSG back talking to Thanh Nien for AFF Cup

It has taken nearly 18 months and one ASEAN Football Championship (formerly Tiger Cup) played in Singapore and Bangkok without a naming rights sponsor, but World Sports Group, representing the ASEAN Football Federation, is now back to talking to Vietnam's pro-football newspaper, Thanh Nien.

In October 2005, six months after Singapore's Tiger Beer company announced it would not extend its 10-year relationship with the much-loved competition, Thanh Nien had submitted a proposal to take over the US$2 million sponsorship.

Leaders of the Vietnam Football Federation said they were "strongly in support and have confidence in Thanh Nien newspaper" because of its "experience, economic potential and prestige" in sponsoring Vietnam's own U21 national football championships for nine consecutive years and the Vietnam Football Development Company revealed it would contribute about half of the necessary sponsorship funds.

Thanh Nien chief Nguyen Cong Khe said companies and agencies in Vietnam would join hands for the event. "Vietnam Airlines, tourist companies, hotels, restaurants, and sports agencies will certainly come to our aid," he said. In the event of the Vietnamese proposal being accepted, he said, the VFF would be responsible for taking care of transportation, food, accommodation, security, and healthcare services for officials, footballers and the organization board and Thanh Nien responsible for communications, advertising and procurement of sponsorship for the event.

However the Vietnamese partners were warned by then Asian Football Confederation general secretary, Peter Velappan, that the event could not be permanently based in Vietnam, insisting that countries in ASEAN take turns to host it. In March 2006, the AFF then announced that the tournament was renamed the ASEAN Football Championship and would take place in Januaruy 2007.

Thanh Nien has now announced it is re-entering negotiations with the AFF to become the main sponsor of the next ASEAN Football Championship in two years time. "The AFF appointed its exclusive commercial partner, World Sport Group, to hold talks with the Vietnamese side," reported Vietnam Football Federation’s general secretary Tran Quoc Tuan on Wednesday. “AFF Chairman Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeer agreed to send his associates to Vietnam after February 17 to carry out discussions on the cooperation,” he said.

See also: US$2M sponsorship still sought for ASEAN Cup (17 Oct 05)