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FIFA threatens to ban Cambodia from football

The world body has threatened to suspend Cambodia's membership and ban its teams, saying the Cambodian Football Federation is too politically influenced.

india Updated: May 08, 2006 16:51 IST

FIFA has threatened to suspend Cambodia's membership and ban its teams from international football, saying the Cambodian Football Federation (CFF) is too politically influenced.

FIFA has called into question recent elections for a new CFF president which saw respected leader Khek Ravy ousted.

Royalist party member Khek Ravy, who was president since 2003, had been credited with trying to revive the game in Cambodia and pushing for the impoverished country's recognition abroad.

"FIFA is not in a position to recognise the so-called 'elections'," the football body's president Sepp Blatter wrote in an April 28 letter to the CFF's leaders.

"All of the elements and documents received in FIFA conclude that the Article 17 of the FIFA Statutes has been flagrantly violated on the grounds of political interference by the Cambodian governmental authorities," he said.

In a snap poll in April, Khek Ravy was abruptly replaced by military police chief Sao Sokha, who is a close ally of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Many saw the election as a move against Cambodia's royalist FUNCINPEC party, which has been at odds with the premier's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

"There was no political interference in the election at all. There is no government involvement," Sao Sokha told.

"Maybe FIFA has not received enough information about the election process," he said.

FIFA is also threatening to suspend its 250,000 US dollars in annual funding to Cambodia's national football program, which has struggled to gain international respect after numerous scandals and a dismal record of losses.

Cambodia is ranked 184 out of 205 countries by FIFA.

First Published: May 08, 2006 12:58 IST