Monday, August 29, 2016

A Story of Biblical Proportions

David Casserly - PPCFC's lawyer
When Phnom Penh Crown (PPCFC) were smacked with a ban from the AFC Cup, which should’ve been their icing on the cake for winning the Metfone Cambodian League at the end of last year, they were devastated and in disbelief. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) - the governing body for football in the Asian continent - informed the Cambodian Football Federation (FFC) on 20 May 2016 that PPCFC were not allowed to take part because of activities relating to match manipulation and they asked FFC to select another team. With their hard-earned prize torn from their grasp, PPCFC immediately appealed against the ban only for AFC to confirm their decision was final. On 3 June PPCFC made a last-ditch appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), often referred to as ‘sport’s supreme court,’ in an effort to overturn what they saw as an unfair and unjust decision by AFC. CAS is located in Lausanne in Switzerland and resolves sports-related disputes through arbitration, often involving such high-profile names as Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan, Maria Sharapova and dozens of athletes at the recent Rio Olympics.

For a small team like PPCFC from lowly-ranked Cambodia to take on such a formidable adversary in the form of the AFC was unheard of. You could liken it to the biblical proportions of David versus Goliath. PPCFC appointed Irish barrister and sports lawyer David Casserly (pictured above) as their go-to man. His involvement in several landmark cases and his experience acting for FIFA and UEFA, as well as several Champions League clubs in Italy, Portugal and France, was essential to any possibility of a successful appeal. He has a history of acting in leading corruption cases, foremost among them the World Cup vote-buying scandal, several of the key Bosman/Article 17 cases and disputes involving top players such as Luis Suarez, Pepe and Essien. He’d also previously acted as legal counsel and head of mediation at CAS itself. Assisting him was Jose Luis Andrade, a Portuguese attorney who had experience working on dispute resolution at FIFA.

At PPCFC, a small team of head coach Sam Schweingruber, general-secretary Ly Heang, press officer Andy Brouwer alongwith vice president Tommy Lim, provided Casserly and Andrade with the background information they needed to formulate their appeal against the AFC decision to deny PPCFC admission to the 2017 AFC Cup. Afterall, it was PPCFC who initially took internal action against match manipulation activities before placing the evidence with the FFC, who later banned four coaches. To punish the club for their proactive stance against such activities was the underlying unfairness of the AFC position.

The appeal case was heard by the CAS Arbitration Panel in their Lausanne headquarters on 19 August 2016. They found in favour of PPCFC, upholding the appeal, dismissed the decision of AFC and ordered them to allow PPCFC to participate in the AFC Cup Playoff Stage, likely to be held in February 2017. It was another successful landmark case for David Casserly and Jose Luis Andrade and an outcome that speaks volumes for the integrity and resourcefulness of PPCFC. They had stood their ground, taken on the might of AFC and won. History in the making and perhaps a result that a young shepherd boy with a slingshot would be proud of.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crown appeal upheld at CAS

Phnom Penh Crown Club Statement : Dated 24 August 2016:
Phnom Penh Crown Football Club is very pleased to announce that the club will be allowed to participate in the 2017 AFC Cup following our appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
On 20 May 2016 the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that PPCFC was refused admission to compete in the 2017 AFC Cup, despite being the Champions of the Metfone Cambodian League in 2015.
PPCFC appealed against the AFC decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland on 3 June 2016.
Following a hearing at the CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on 19 August 2016, CAS upheld the club’s appeal, dismissed the decision of AFC, and ordered AFC to allow PPCFC to participate in the AFC Cup 2017.
PPCFC will consequently be admitted to participate in the AFC Cup Playoff Stage, likely to be held in February 2017.
PPCFC would like to express its appreciation to the CAS Arbitration Panel for their integrity and fairness and to its lawyers, Mr David Casserly and Mr Jose Luis Andrade, for their utmost professionalism and tireless efforts in this matter on our behalf.
Andy Brouwer
Press Officer
RSN Stadium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Friday, August 12, 2016

New books

* Soma Norodom has published a book on her experiences in Cambodia, titled Royal Rebel, which is available through Amazon, etc. I was a guest on her English-speaking radio talk show in September 2011 and our discussion ranged from growing up in the UK, to Vann Nath, to sci-fi, observational comedy, the late Haing Ngor, contemporary dance, blogging, Phnom Penh Crown FC, my book To Cambodia With Love and Khmer food. She also wrote a column for the Phnom Penh Post before returning to the USA.
* Next month will see the release of Chanrithy Him's newest book, a fantasy-vampire tale called Rise of the Golden Aura. Chanrithy was the author of the brilliant memoir When Broken Glass Floats.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Shakira passes

Very sad to hear of the passing of Shakira Martin, a former Miss Jamaica Universe beauty queen and one of four children of ex-Steel Pulse vocalist Phonso Martin, who spent fourteen years with the band, from their earliest days up until 1991.
Shaikra was a victim of Sickle Cell disease and a committed advocate for the cause. She used her success as a beauty queen to spread awareness of sickle cell anaemia. She passed away from complications with sickle cell blood clots in both her lungs, on 3 August, aged just 30.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Angkor stuff

Visiting the temples of Angkor will cost more from 1 Feb 2017. Angkor Enterprise, the state agency in charge of ticket sales, said foreigners must pay $37 (up from $20) for a 1-day Angkor Pass, a three-day ticket increases from $40 to $62 and a one-week ticket from $60 to $72. Khmers get in for free. Also much stricter dress codes have been implemented recently. Be warned.

Look in your cupboards and if you have any Khmer statues that came from Battambang, please return them! 68 have gone missing from the 2 museums in Battambang and a book about the missing sculptures is now out. More @
The sculptures have been spirited away over the years, but do not include this stele which I photographed at Wat Po Veal Museum in 2006.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Football photos

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Not my best angle

Unflattering picture alert! At a recent game.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

It's a bust is a bust this season with Phnom Penh Crown's campaign getting off to the worst possible start and never really recovering. We are in 6th place right now, five games to go and only pride to salvage. Our hopes of a third consecutive championship are long gone. I will write a book one day about the ups and downs in Cambodian football but suffice to say, we haven't reached the heights that we did over the past two years. Club football in Cambodia is still languishing far behind the interest being shown in the national team. We have our own stadium and the best pitch in the country and are the reigning champions but we still find it hard to get a good crowd at our RSN Stadium (by which I mean more than 2,000+). We've done it 3 or 4 times this season but when we play one of the lesser teams the attendance numbers drop to the late hundreds or hovering around 1,000. We have continued to build our support online (facebook, youtube, etc) but its not materializing into bums on seats yet, while the national team get around 50K+ for home matches, come rain or shine. So the interest in football is definitely out there amongst the Khmer public but converting that into people coming to watch league matches is a tough ask right now. It doesn't help that nearly every game is televised live either. This apathy for club sides applies to all teams, not just us. There is talk of taking clubs out to the provinces to drum up support but so far only Svay Rieng have ventured outside of the capital. Until teams get serious with developing their own identity, helped by regional backing from the fans who take ownership for their teams, then we will likely continue to struggle. Neighbouring countries, especially Thailand, have been successful with this approach, but I think it will be a while before Cambodia takes the bull by the horns and does the same thing. Also missing at league matches is passion. A real heartfelt passion for football is not something that comes easily to the Khmers. The national team generates a mexican wave or two, some local-flavour dancing and obviously lots of selfies, but organised chanting/singing, etc is absent. If you shout loudly at a game, heads turn in your direction, its something out of the ordinary, not the norm; which is weird in the extreme for someone brought up on a diet of British football. Just a few thoughts as I get back into the swing of writing again.


TLR wins again

Kulikar Sotho, director of The Last Reel, was given the award of Best Picture at the Traverse City Film Festival this week by award-winning director Michael Moore, who is the founder of the festival and who called it a beautiful film. The film has won a series of awards since it was first screened at the Tokyo Film Festival a couple of years ago. Kulikar dedicated the award to Cambodians everywhere. Picture courtesy of TCFF.

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