The fanatical frenzy of World Cup competition has brought in its wake consternation
for both Cambodia's football faithful and the Phnom Penh police force.
At a June 4 meeting of the executive committee of the Zurich-based Federation Internationale
de Football Association, the committee declared that the Cambodian Football Federation
has 90 days to "revise its statutes to fall in line with FIFA requirements and
convene an elective congress... or face suspension from world football's governing
The suspension would mean an end to the CFF's $250,000 annual funding and would bar
Cambodia from FIFA-sanctioned international play. The decision follows an April 29
letter from FIFA President Joseph Blatter to then-CFF president Khek Ravy that claimed
the CFF had "flagrantly" violated Article 17 of the FIFA statute on the
grounds of political interference."
The Blatter letter was prompted by CFF elections held April 25 that replaced seven-year
CFF president Ravy with General Sao Sokha, head of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces
military police. Ravy is in Switzerland working for FIFA on an appeals panel.
"FIFA has asked CFF to revise our statutes for a long time, but we have not
finished it yet," said May Tola, CFF national technical director.
"After the election recently, we had some internal disputes. That's why they've
asked us for the revision. FIFA doesn't care whether we have political problems or
disputes. If the CFF members can be tolerant and respect the FIFA conditions, then
CFF will be recognized by FIFA."
Tola said that the CFF intends to comply with the FIFA mandate before the early September
"More than 90 percent of the funds we receive from FIFA are used for the development
of Cambodian football," he said. "We have to follow FIFA's advice so this
will not affect Cambodian football, and the money can be used by the CFF."
Meanwhile, Phnom Penh Municipal Police officials are on "red alert" to
prevent an upsurge in crime brought about by the immense volume of World Cup wagering.
"My forces have received specific directives aimed at preventing worsening security
on the streets during the World Cup," said Touch Naruth, Phnom Penh Municipality
police commissioner. "This includes increased numbers of daytime patrols and
more random weapon checks at night. It is our duty to keep the order during this
Although, Naruth reports on a minor increase in petty crime, others have been thinking
On June 10, Leng Vutha, an accountant at a private construction company was arrested
after he stole more than $40,000 from his employer to place football bets. A representative
for the company said that in only two days Vutha had lost more than $40,000.
"I am concerned that robbery will increase in Phnom Penh during the World Cup,"
said Keo Remy, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian. "Many of Cambodia's unemployed
youth are losing sizable sums on the World Cup and they will turn to crime, for example
motorbike theft. But not only students and young people gamble, but also the rich
and some government officials."
Remy estimates that CamboSix, the nations only legal sports gambling facility, brings
in $2 million each day on World Cup betting.
"The number of people betting on soccer games has skyrocketed since the World
Cup started," said Vandy a CamboSix outlet manager near Ta Pang market. "At
my place, we're collecting roughly $40,000 every day."
CamboSix has 24 outlets in Phnom Penh.