Blatter praises Man Utd for calling off Malaysia match

May 27, 2007

LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) - Manchester United's controversial tour match against a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on July 27 had been called off because it clashed with the Asian Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Sunday.

'I compliment Manchester United on their decision not to go there. Their other matches on the tour in Japan, Macau and Korea will go ahead. Those matches do not conflict with any Asian Cup matches,' Blatter told a news conference in Zurich.

The Asian Cup tournament, which runs from July 7-29, is co-hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Earlier this month, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) said it would go ahead with the match because it was the wish of the country's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Malaysian government had planned to use the game as part its celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the nation's independence from Britain.

'We were able to convince Manchester United that the international calendar reserves the second half of June and the whole of July for the confederations.

'We have nothing against clubs touring other countries, of course, but at that time in Malaysia the United match virtually clashes with the semi-final of the Asian Cup.'

Premier League champions United had issued a statement on Wednesday saying the FAM's agreement with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to host the Asian Cup meant the club could not play the game without the official approval of the AFC.

'The club hopes that the issues can be resolved by the relevant parties to ensure that this celebration match can take place as planned,' the statement said.

United plan to open their tour on July 17 against Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama, Japan before playing FC Seoul in South Korea on July 20. They then travel to Macau where they will face Chinese side Shenzhen FC on July 23.

The tour was due to end in Malaysia four days later.