Special Olympics International chief of strategic properties Peter Wheeler (centre) praised Malaysia for the Special Olympics Unified Football World Cup preparations. He is flanked by Special Olympics Malaysia vice-president Datuk Peter Velappan (left) and president Muhd Feisol Hassan.
PETALING JAYA: Libya have qualified for the Special Olympics Unified Football World Cup in Malaysia, completing the 25-team world meet which will take place from Nov 1-15.
Malaysia will be the first country to host this event and Special Olympics International (SOI) have given the thumbs-up to Malaysia’s preparations.
At a press conference on Thursday, Special Olympics Malaysia (SOM) vice-president Datuk Peter Velappan announced that Perak, Kedah, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor will host the group matches, while the knockout rounds and final will be held in Kuala Lumpur.
“Preparations are under way and we hope to deliver a special tournament. It will be a special event for the world to see and we hope to gain as much exposure for, not only the event, but also the message behind it,” said Velappan.
SOI chief of strategic properties Peter Wheeler said he was impressed with the preparations after carrying out routine inspections of several venues in the five states.
“The initiative by SOM is fantastic as they have gone the distance to make this happen and we are confident Malaysia will excel in hosting this event,” he said.
SOM president Muhd Feisol Hassan revealed a verbal agreement with former Japanese international and Roma player Hidetoshi Nakata to be the ambassador.
“We are hoping Nakata will be available in November. However, we will also be working towards (bringing in) other big names like David Beckham.”
The Special Olympics Unified Football World Cup is for youths aged between 18 and 25. The 11-a-side competition will see seven footballers with intellectual disabilities and four able-bodied Under-21 footballers in each team.
The teams competing are the United States, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, France, Poland, Russia, South Korea, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Libya and hosts Malaysia.