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FIFA summit touches down in Phnom Penh

Ismail Vorajee and and Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Tengku Abdullah Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah (centre), Crown Prince of the state of Pahang in Malaysia, is escorted by Khiev Sameth (left) the vice-president of both the AFF and the FFC and Malaysian Embassy officials. KT/Ven Rathavong

FIFA officials and delegates from around the region and the world have converged on Phnom Penh for the latest instalment of football’s organising body FIFA’s Executive Football Summit Series.

FIFA’s Gianni Infantino, who arrived at Phnom Penh’s airport yesterday at 6pm, is making his first trip to the kingdom since being installed as president in February 2016 and will lead proceedings at the Sofitel hotel today.

The FIFA Executive Football Summit 2017/2018 is a series of conferences in which leaders discuss reform and development initiatives aimed at encouraging better governance of the world’s most popular game. This latest series kicked off in Baja, Azerbaijan, in November 2017 and will conclude in Lima, Peru, in March.

Among those who touched down yesterday include Tengku Abdullah Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, the Crown Prince of the state of Pahang in Malaysia, a member of the FIFA council and a former President of the Malaysian Football Association. He was escorted by members of the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh and Khiev Sameth, the vice-president of both the Asean Football Federation and the Football Federation of Cambodia.

Mr Sameth told Khmer Times that the arrival of the Crown Prince was to join the FIFA summit and he is a member of the FIFA council.

Gianni Infantino (left) at Phnom Penh Airport yesterday.
KT/Ven Rathavong

“We do not have any special meeting with him, but he could have other unofficial meetings,” he said.

Mr Sameth said the summit will build relations between Cambodia and FIFA as they hope to benefit from the FIFA Forward Programme of development.

He pointed out that this fund will help Cambodia to develop football across all provinces.

The summit bills itself as a platform facilitating exchange and encouraging greater participation by FIFA’s 211 member associations in strategic decisions. The agenda of this year’s summits centre on FIFA’s youth and women’s competitions.

The summit is a core initiative of an organisation most famous in recent years for a vast corruption scandal which led to the ouster of president Sepp Blatter and the arrest and sentencing of numerous other officials.

When launching this series of summits in Paris in 2016, Infantino stressed the importance of cooperation and communication with the 211 member associations.

“It is important that in future the decisions at FIFA are not dictated from the top but really come from those who have to engage with and organise football in their countries,” he said.

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