Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I must say well done to the online website of Sabay.com who are devoting a great deal of coverage these days to local sport, especially football. They are even beginning to highlight some of the issues that rankle with me, but which are generally swept under the carpet, such as the heavy-handed tactics of the Army (National Defense Ministry) football club in the way they deal with their own players and carry on as if Cambodian football was their own personal fiefdom. There appears to be one rule for the Army and another rule for all of the other professional clubs, whilst the football federation stand idly by and allow the military to ride roughshod over FIFA regulations and rules. Take the debacle of last season as an example. Before the season began, a number of players wanted to leave the Army team. Some were scared off by fear of retribution from those above, whilst three or four players that did have the balls to leave were then denied playing for other Cambodian teams by a combination of the Army refusing point-blank to allow them to move clubs, and the complete ineptitude of the football federation to take a strong lead in resolving the impasse. The players were not under contract to the Army and so in effect they were free agents as footballers to join whoever they wished. However, the military team steadfastly refused to release their registrations and effectively left them in limbo. They even claimed that as bona fide members of the armed forces, they were not able to leave the club. Basically the Army's ultimatum was; play for us or play for no-one. Two of the players, Khim Borey and Sin Dalin took off to Thailand where the Army were forced to tow the line under FIFA regulations and to agree to their international clearance, but for players like Nov Soseila and Suong Virak, they were left kicking their heels in Phnom Penh, with the federation turning a blind eye to the shenanigans of the military strongmen. After negotiations, Virak did appear for Phnom Penh Crown but missed the Hun Sen Cup competition, while Soseila has not kicked a ball in anger for more than a year. When Borey attempted to return after his contract in Thailand came to an end, his registration for the C-League was withheld, though he was granted permission to play in the AFC President's Cup. You have got to feel for the players involved. They wish to further their football career but the Army will do everything in their power, which is considerable, to deny them their livelihood. And the federation, who should be protecting player's rights, simply look the other way. Safeguards against this restriction of livelihood need to be introduced, which could include a player's union for example, the federation need to act like a real federation and abide by the rules of FIFA over player's transfers and contracts, and the Army must decide whether they are a military unit that wears football boots or they are a separate professional football club, and if the latter, they should act like one.