Afghanistan national football team coach Mohammad Karger has called on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) not to hold further tournaments in the Maldives.
“We have suggestions for the AFC that they do not again organise games in a country in which we can’t go and play football. This is for holidays, we come [here] for holidays,” said Karger.
The AFC has meanwhile suggested today that the Maldives could face suspension from further tournaments should local authorities carry out investigations into possible corruption regarding ticket sales.
The Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday announced it would investigate potential misconduct after irregularities in the sale of tickets prompted fans to protest outside Football Association of Maldives (FAM) headquarters yesterday.
Speaking during a pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s semi-final against Palestine in Malé, Afghan coach Karger complained of the logistics surrounding the team’s group matches – held in Addu City.
Echoing comments made by Phillipines coach Tom Dooley yesterday, Karger suggested that it was inappropriate for teams to have to travel by boat prior to games.
Dooley told media yesterday that the 20 minute speedboat between Herathera resort and Hithadhoo was “unusual”, and that this had caused some of his players to suffer travel sickness before games.
Karger – speaking through his captain Zohib Islam Amiri who acted as translator – advised the AFC today not to organise games where transport to matches causes players to vomit.
Addu City is scheduled to hold the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Challenge Cup later this year.
Prior to the tournament, Assistant Secretary General of the Football Association of Maldives Mohamed Nasir had cited the unusual geography of the country as a reason to celebrate the staging of the tournament as something “remarkable”.
The after-effects of the Afghan team’s bus crash on Saturday were also revealed during today’s press conference, with the head coach stating that three players injured in the incident were now unavailable for the game, while three more were being assessed.
Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed has stated that the incident may have been deliberate, although the road on which the crashoccurred is a notorious accident hot spot, and the motorcyclist involved has tested positive for opiates.
Addu City Council has today expressed its regret over the incident as well as defamatory remarks during the ongoing investigation.
“We call on the organisers of this tournament to identify what has caused this and to take action to further strengthen organization in order to ensure that such a sad incident is not repeated during future international tournaments,” read a council statement.
Following the Anti-Corruption Commission’s announcement that it would be looking into potential wrongdoing in the sale of tickets for tomorrow’s semi-finals, the AFC today released a statement today warning that such investigations fall under its jurisdiction.
“If any domestic investigative authority attempts to intervene in the affairs of AFC or in any tournament conducted by AFC in partnership with FAM [Maldives Football Association], the Republic of Maldives, as a member of AFC and FIFA is at risk of being penalised for such intervention, including suspension from international events and tournaments,” read an AFC statement.
Minivan News has previously received information that relatives of FAM staff had been selling tickets at inflated prices. Unrest broke out among queuing fans as the number of available tickets dropped dramatically yesterday.
Local media reported that sales had continued this morning. FAM officials were not responding to calls at the time of publication.
Meanwhile, local media has reported that President Abdulla Yameen has pledged a further MVR1 million to the Maldives team should it win its semi-final against the Philippines tomorrow.
Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Maleeh Jamal is said to have made the announcement at a function held to award the team with the previous MVR1 million – promised in return for the team’s progression from the group stage.
Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was also reported to have offered a further MVR500,000 to the players.
With the tournament touted as an opportunity to bring unity to the country after an extended period of political division, the Civil Service Commission today requested that all employees wear red tomorrow in order to demonstrate support for the team.
The winner of Friday’s final will automatically qualify for next year’s Asian Cup in Australia.