AFC says Man U tour "in direct conflict" with Cup

Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam has publicly expressed concern over the planned July tour of English Premier League club Manchester United to Asia and other European club activities, saying that the pre-season commercial tours were in direct conflict with the continent's flagship competition, the AFC Asian Cup 2007. In his opening remarks to the 8th AFC Asian Cup Organising Committee, which met today at AFC House under the chairmanship of China's Zhang Jilong, Bin Hammam said: "Organisation of different competitions in and around the AFC Asian Cup is affecting the mood of the competition. The visit of Manchester United is of particular concern to us."

"The Manchester United tour dates clash with the AFC Asian Cup (7-29 July ) and AFC doesn't want any competitions to be promoted or organised during the month of July," continued the AFC chief. "If the tour goes ahead then it will be a breach of the OAA (Organising Association Agreement)," he said.

The Asian Cup is being co-hosted by Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand but Malaysia is going ahead with a Man United promotional game in Kuala Lumpur on 27 July - just two days after the city completes its hosting of an Asian Cup group round and semi-final and two days before neighbouring Jakarta hosts the final.

The AFC has reminded the Football Association of Malaysia that its contract to host the Asian Cup clearly stated it could not sanction or promote any other footballing event during the tournament but FAM president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah reportedly said last month that Malaysia's Asian Cup responsibilities ended on 25 July, when they host one of the semi-finals. "There won't be a clash and furthermore, the Manchester United tour is part of Visit Malaysia Year and Malaysia's 50th year of independence," Shah told media.