Kuala Lumpur:English champion Manchester United says it may be forced to cancel its Malaysian soccer match scheduled for July due to fierce opposition from Asian soccer's governing body.
The Premier League team said in a statement on its Web site late on Wednesday that it believes the July 27 match "is a key element of the Malaysian government's celebrations of its 50 years of independence and presents a marvelous opportunity for us to play in front of our many Malaysian fans."
However, United noted that the Asian Football Confederation opposes the match due to concerns it will detract from the July 7-29 AFC Asian Cup, which Malaysia is co-hosting.
United chief executive David Gill and Premier League chairman Dave Richards met with AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam for more than two hours in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, following which the AFC said it remains adamant the match should be rescheduled.
"Unfortunately new information has come to the club's attention today concerning the (Football Association of Malaysia's) agreement with the AFC to act as host for the Asian Cup, which means the club cannot play the game without the official approval of the AFC," United's statement said. "The club hopes that the issues can be resolved by the relevant parties to ensure that this celebration match can take place as planned."
The AFC has said the Malaysian government and the FAM have a "contractual obligation" with the AFC not to host any other soccer competition during the AFC Asian Cup.
Malaysia Sports Minister Azalina Othman Said told the national news agency Bernama late Wednesday she has contacted Hammam to ask that the AFC give special exemption for Malaysia to host United.
The AFC has previously urged United to postpone its entire four-country Asian tour - which also includes Japan, South Korea and Macau - as it would compete with the 16-nation Asian Cup for spectator interest, television viewers and ticket sales.
The Asian Cup, the region's flagship tournament, will be jointly hosted by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.