Malaysian Govt 'guaranteed' FAM Asian Cup deal

Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam has reiterated that football's continental authority had done no wrong in witholding support for English Premier League club Manchester United’s tour of Asia during the 7-29 July Asian Cup Finals and was but enforcing the contract signed by the Football Association of Malaysia when it had requested be an Asian Cup co-host in 2005.

“We are sorry the issue had been twisted up ... we did not ask to cancel the tour. We simply wanted it to be re-scheduled. We have all the relevant documents of the agreement and there should not be any misunderstandings,” said Hammam. He said according to the agreement the MU game could be held either 10 days before or three days after the completion of the Asian Cup Finals.

The tour promoters appointed by Manchester United, ProEvents, had planned to kick off the tour against J-League champions Urawa Red Diamonds on 17 July in Saitama followed by matches against FC Seoul (20 July), Shenzhen FC in Macau (23 July and a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur (27 July). The match in KL is two days before the Asian Cup final in Jakarta.

“We are always looking to seek an amicable solution to this problem ... not look for conflicts,” said Hammam while distributing copies of the Malaysian Government's guarantee letter issued by the Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said, which clearly spelled out their obligations to the AFC Asian Cup 2007, The Star's Eric Samuel reported.

Hammam also issued a copy of his letter addressed to English FA Premier League Chairman Sir Dave Richards in September last year on the dates for the Asian Cup Finals which would be hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. He had sought their understanding to avoid United's summer tour from clashing with their flagship tournament in the region.