PETALING JAYA: FIFA has revoked Malaysia’s right to host the 2017 FIFA Congress over fears that delegates from certain countries would not be issued a travel visa to attend the event, FourFourTwo reported.
Losing the hosting rights for the prestigious event is a major blow to Malaysia as it would attract a global audience, with the hosts for the 2026 World Cup Finals to be decided at the meeting.
“An apparent issue of getting travel visa for delegates from certain countries has resulted in Malaysia losing hosting rights of the 2017 FIFA Congress,” the international football magazine report stated.
FIFA’s decision was relayed to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) on Tuesday, but the national football governing body is only expected to make an announcement on the matter after an executive committee meeting next Monday.
Malaysia were awarded the hosting rights for next year’s FIFA Congress in December 2013.
According to FourFourTwo, FIFA had stated, among its reasons for the revocation, the possible difficulty in delegates from certain countries – including Israel – obtaining necessary travel documents.
Malaysia and Israel do not have political ties and its citizens are not able to travel freely between the two countries.
However, the world football governing body did not take into account that Malaysia hosted last year’s International Olympic Committee Congress, which welcomed delegates from all member countries.
Some sources have however, speculated that the recent turbulence in the local football scene may be behind the sudden decision by FIFA.
FAM President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and some members of the FAM exco had reportedly announced their intention to resign after a recent meeting with Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
In April 2015, Tengku Abdullah was voted into the FIFA Executive Committee as one of three Asian representatives in the organisation’s main decision-making body.
Youth Sailing World Championships
Meanwhile, on the issue of travel restrictions, this is not the first time that Malaysia has attracted worldwide attention.
Last December, Malaysia’s delay in issuing visas for two Israeli athletes who had qualified for the Youth Sailing World Championships, held in Langkawi from Dec 27 to Jan 3 (2016), resulted in the duo being forced to withdraw at the last minute.
International Sailing Federation, the global governing body for the sport, then investigated the matter and eventually absolved the Malaysia Sailing Association of any fault as the visa matter was not within its control.
Then in January this year, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) CEO Judit Farago said Malaysia faced a possible ban on hosting international tournaments in the future if it pressed on with imposing restrictions on Israeli athletes.
It was reported that Malaysia had not issued travel visas for Israeli athletes who had qualified on merit, to participate in the Perfect World Team Table Tennis Championships, from Feb 28 to March 6, at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam.