Church's Peace Cup keeps clash with Asian Cup

The privately-funded, biennial Peace Cup Korea has announced that its 2007 invited participants are English Premier League clubs Reading and Bolton Wanderers alongside K-League side Seongnam, J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse, France's Olympique Lyon, Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara, Argentina's River Plate and Italy's Udinese. London-based Tottenham Hotspurs has declined to defend its 2005 title. "The Peace Cup tournament is aimed at conveying to the world a culture and vision for peace through football," said Kwak Chung-hwan, chairman of the organizing committee which represents the Sun Moon Soccer Foundation and Interreligious and International Peace Council, both established by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, the founder of News World Communications Inc, which owns United Press International.

However the organisers appear to have rejected comments made just two days ago by Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said about Manchester United's cancellation of a friendly game in Kuala Lumpur on 27 July because it overlapped with the Asian Football Confederation's prestigious Asian Cup 2007. The Minister said the Malaysian Government still welcomed any offer from international clubs to play friendly matches in the country. "However, the timing should not clash with other important tournaments."

The Peace Cup, set to be played 12-21 July in seven cities across South Korea with US$2.4 million in prize money on offer, most definitely overlaps the Asian Cup played 7-29 July in South East Asia. As well, South Korea's national team is regarded as red-hot favourites to win through its Group D round, and quarter and semi finals to appear in the Asian Cup Final in Jakarta on 29 July.

"We don't see a big problem that the dates are overlapping," an official at the Peace Cup organising committee told Jack Kim of Reuters by telephone. "It's a matter of making sure there are no games overlapping with Korea's games in the Asian Cup," the official added without addressing the issues of competing television and sponsor interests.

Radio Australia has also reported that "South Korea's Peace Cup organisers are negotiating for survival with Asian Cup organisers" and that "a Peace Cup spokesman says they have begun moving the schedule around to avoid conflicts."