I really do despair at the shenanigans going on between the Army and the football federation. In itself it's a microcosm of the ills that affect everyday life throughout Cambodia. The powerful and wealthy flex their muscles (in this case the Army), the paper-pushers do what they're told (the FFC) and the small man at the foot of the chain is the one to suffer (the player). The Cambodian football federation's refusal to allow Khim Borey to play in Saturday's Hun Sen Cup match against the National Police was another kick in the teeth to a player who doesn't know whether he's coming or going. And we are talking about one of the country's very best footballers over the past four or five years. The Army have been unhappy since Borey joined Phnom Penh Crown before the start of last season. He was out of his playing contract with the Army team and as a free agent, he moved across to join Crown. The Army weren't happy and threw a spanner in the works immediately, with the FFC jumping on the bandwagon and refusing to allow him to play in last season's Hun Sen Cup competition. The problem went away for a few months as Borey, with the FFC's agreement, linked up with Thai Premier Division club Sisaket, but resurfaced when he returned to Crown at the back-end of the C-League season. He was again denied his place in the last few league matches by the FFC with no reason given. In an about face, the FFC did give their thumbs up for his inclusion in the AFC President's Cup finals in Taiwan and all seemed set for the new season. Borey took his place in the Crown line-up for their opening Hun Sen Cup tie against Kratie last week and scored. Then, on Friday, Crown received a letter from the FFC again saying Borey was ineligible, as the Army had again raised their previous objections, saying that as a member of the Army he couldn't play for anyone else. Despite a last-minute appeal, Borey's name was scrubbed from the start list. The player himself was crestfallen. He thought the kerfuffle had been resolved, only for the Army to stick their oar in again (and have now added Boeung Ket's Sin Dalin to their objection targets) and leave him high and dry.
This problem has now been on the FFC's table for a year with Army claiming he's still with them, whilst Crown have a contract with the player, having abided by FIFA rules and regulations in signing him. The FFC remain completely ineffectual, having changed their minds twice already to allow Borey to play in Taiwan and then against Kratie, before the latest ban. The Army obviously hold great sway over the FCC leadership and are prepared to do anything they can to ruin the player's career. For them, it's not about the player, but more the flexing of their muscle to show everyone who's boss when it comes to Cambodian football. As I inferred at the beginning, it clearly demonstrates that Cambodia and its football remain locked in the Stone Age, unable to shake off the shackles of its past. Basically the Army's ultimatum is this; play for us or play for no-one. Players like Borey and Dalin 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.