Malaysia set to welcome Chelsea

The Football Association of Malaysia are confident Chelsea manager Avram Grant will have no problems gaining entry to the country during the club’s Asian tour this summer.

The Football Association of Malaysia are confident Chelsea manager Avram Grant will have no problems gaining entry to the country during the club’s Asian tour this summer.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon was in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to announce the Blues would play a Malaysian Selection side on July 29 as part of their Far East summer programme.

Questions however have since been raised about whether Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim would be permitted to enter Malaysia as the country has no diplomatic ties with Israel.

But FAM deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin has downplayed those fears, citing the precedent set by the Israeli national cricket team’s participation in the 1997 ICC Trophy.

“(Tour organisers) Pro Events has been advised to look into this matter and seek the necessary clearance,” said Khairy.

“The FAM have agreed to support and sanction this tournament. After all precedents have been set before.”

Chelsea last visited the Malaysian capital in 2003, when they claimed the inaugural Premier League Asia Trophy with victories over the Malaysia national side and Newcastle.

“We are happy to be associated with a club like Chelsea,” said Khairy.

“Apart from giving the Malaysian Selection a chance to benchmark their skills against one of the best teams in Europe, the tour will also appeal to keen supporters of the English Premier League in Malaysia.”

As part of the arrangement, Malaysia national coach B Sathianathan has been invited to Stamford Bridge for a two-week placement ahead of the start of the Barclays Premier League season in August.

“Ultimately we want to build real linkages with clubs like Chelsea,” Khairy added.

“We do not want top clubs to come here to Kuala Lumpur, play one match and then disappear.

“For a start Chelsea has agreed to allow Sathianathan to work with Chelsea’s think tank for a period of 10 days.”

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