Comment by D. Raj
IT was all fanfare. The biggest names in world football, mouth-watering matches in store, a three-year contract and above all, a RM17mil budget.
The Champions Youth Cup was touted as the biggest football event to have happened in Malaysia since the World Youth Cup of 1997 and the heydays of the Merdeka Tournament.
But it has all gone sour. With one fell swoop, FIFA have shot it down. They have withdrawn sanction of the tournament, leaving the organisers with pie in the face. And of course, the big fat RM17mil pie will now have to be answered for.
There have been conspiracy theories; others have been blamed for poisoning FIFA against Malaysia. Apparently, someone has complained to FIFA that it’s a G14 thing. And FIFA are not too fond of the G14, a group of powerful clubs that are often at loggerheads with FIFA over money and schedules.
But it’s not others that have to be blamed. After all, in Malaysia we have a tendency to leap first – and look later. Often enough, we end up looking sheepish.
Remember the high-performance sports training centre in Brickendonbury? Well, that was another big project. Multi-million dollar plans, grand designs and great ambitions. But no one thought about asking the local council if they would mind having buildings under their jurisdiction torn down and rebuilt.
The Brits believed in staying green. So the grand design stays in the designing stage, kept alive by hope and a few stragglers who use the facility.
And the CYC? The wrangling goes on. The Malaysian government are caught between a rock and a hard place. With the Visit Malaysia Year up and running, the CYC would have been a big draw. But is it a G14 thing or not?
The FA of Malaysia and the government say no but the G14 general manager Thomas Kurth was at the promotional events and the draw for the CYC.
Where did we go wrong? Why didn’t anyone check with FIFA about the running of the tournament? Were FIFA misled? Why did they first sanction the meet and then do an about-turn?
Something must have smelt bad. For all the things that may go wrong in football, FIFA are known to be an efficient outfit and it’s not like them to bungle in a matter like this.
The FA of Malaysia also seem to have bitten off more than they can chew. There is the Asian Cup, Manchester United are coming a-calling, and of course, there is the CYC – if Malaysia can somehow convince the visiting Sepp Blatter that FIFA should sanction it after all.
So, do we really need the CYC? The Asian Football Confederation are already upset that the Manchester United game could detract from the Asian Cup. And now, it is said, there can be no promotion of the CYC during the Asian Cup.
That’s quite silly, really. Where – and when – else would you promote the CYC?
After all, the CYC will be in early August, just after the Asian Cup – at least the Malaysian leg of it – ends on July 25.
Manchester United will be here on July 27, the day the Asian Cup semi-finals are played in Jakarta. What if Malaysia qualify for the semi-finals? Wishful thinking, yes, but what if?
And how do they go about not publicising the United match or the CYC during that period?
Then, the Merdeka Tournament starts almost immediately after all these. A case of too much football?
Maybe it’s just as well FIFA have not sanctioned the CYC. FAM and the government could just forget about holding it.
But that raises another big question. What about the RM17mil?