The Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld Phnom Penh Crown Football Club’s appeal against the Asian Football Confederation’s refusal to allow the defending Cambodian league champions a place in the AFC Cup playoff qualifiers.
The May 20 decision by the AFC on the grounds that the Football Federation of Cambodia had found four officials of the club guilty of match-fixing charges eventually led to Crown being replaced by NagaWorld.
Crown lodged an appeal against the AFC with CAS on June 3.
According to an official statement posted on the club’s Facebook page, the matter came up for hearing at the CAS headquarters in Lausanne on August 19.
After considering arguments on both sides, CAS dismissed the AFC decision and ordered the Asian football governing body to allow Crown to participate in the 2017 AFC Cup.
Since the qualifiers have already started, it remains to be seen where Crown would fit in the tournament structure.
Meanwhile, Crown have been invited to the inaugural China-Asean Cities Football Invitational Tournament to take place in the southern Chinese city of Nanning on December 16-21.
Crown will join home team Guangxi Long Guida, a Chinese league two side with whom the six time Cambodian champs signed a cooperation agreement in November 2015. Clubs invited include Army United from the Thai Premier League and Vietnamese V. League outfit Hanoi T&T .
The matches will be played at the 60,000-capacity Guangxi Sports Centre in Nanning.
Naga face daunting task
Meanwhile, Crown’s replacements, NagaWorld, face the daunting prospect of winning by at least a three-goal margin against Mongolian champions Erchim FC today in their AFC Cup qualifier after the casino-backed side were held to a 1-1 draw by a late equaliser from Nepal’s Three Star Club at the Ulaanbatar Stadium on Tuesday.
Victory seemed on the cards until two minutes from the final whistle as coach Meas Channa’s side grimly hung on after Nhim Sovanara’s 28th minute goal from a Khim Borey corner.
But the Lalitpur-based Nepalese champions levelled the score through Nigerian import Ajayi Martins Kayode, who played a big part in the team’s 2-0 win over Erchim in the first fixture on Monday.
The Three Star goal led to strong protests from Naga players, resulting in the dismissal of goalkeeper York Ary with a straight red card.
The controversy-riddled draw means Naga, with one point to Three Star’s four, will have to beat the home side by a minimum 3-0 to offset the Nepalis’ goal difference to secure the only qualifying spot for the next stage.