FFC chases last-minute sponsorship deals for Suzuki Cup qualifying tournament
FCC president Sao Sokha has no qualms about dipping into next year's funds.
THE rewards, in terms of national pride and football development, will be great for Cambodia, should the national football team advance from the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying tournament underway in Phnom Penh to the Southeast Asian finals this December.
But the costs are also great, too, with the fledgling Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) facing a scrambling to raise enough money to cover the five-nation tournament that wraps up this Saturday.
FFC president Sao Sokha put the cost of hosting and promoting the October 17-25 competition-featuring Cambodia, Brunei, East Timor, Laos and the Philippines-at US$210,000, of which the FFC must raise more than half.
The Asean Football Federation (AFF) has provided $100,000 through Suzuki Cup sponsors sourced by its marketing partner World Sport Group (WSG), with Telekom Malaysia International (Cambodia) Co - best known locally for their Hello mobile phone lines - fronting an additional $60,000.
"We expect to get $20,000 though ticket sales from the four games our national team is playing, because from the two days our team has played so far, we received $5,000 each time," Sao Sokha told the Post.
Cambodia secured a promising 3-2 victory over Laos at Olympic Stadium last Friday but were held to a 2-2 draw with East Timor on Sunday. They face the Philippines on Thursday and Brunei on Saturday.
"We've spent $20,000 to get the four matches played live on Cambodian TV [state-run TVK] and have them advertised," Sao Sokha said. "For the other matches [not featuring Cambodia] we just take photos and video for our files.
"Besides this, there are about 500 police working security at the stadium, who we pay $5 each per match."
While the FCC will recoup some money through television advertising, Sao Sokha said he was unsure if the federation would be able to make up the $30,000 sponsorship shortfall, though officials were still searching for sponsors at the tournament's halfway mark Tuesday.
"If we can't get the money we'll use our budget for 2009," he said.
The tournament represents a coming of age in certain respects for the FFC, with Cambodia standing a good chance of being one of two teams from the qualifying tournament to join Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar in the December 5-28 Suzuki Cup finals.
The federation is hosting 25-member delegations from each of the hopeful qualifying nations at Phnom Penh's luxury Nagaworld Hotel, and their sponsorship drive has found at least one enthusiastic partner.
"It is our first really big football project. and we want to have a long-term partnership with the FFC because we think that football is very popular worldwide and everyone enjoys it," said Hello brand manager Gary Foo, whose company's products and services are being promoted at Cambodia matches and will be the focus of a post-tournament concert being organised by the FFC.
For Sao Sokha, developing football in Cambodia is also a matter of national pride.
"We are very proud and honoured to have the chance to host the qualifying matches," he said.
"Through these games we hope that we can show the world that our country has developed, is prosperous, peaceful and has a growing economy.
"We want to enhance the youth through their love of sport and get them to turn away from drugs. We want to entertain our people."