Saturday, March 23, 2013BRUNEI will be punished for their last-minute withdrawal from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers in Manila.
Citing "unavoidable circumstances," the Sultanate pulled out of the March 22-26 tournament on Tuesday, informed AFC on Wednesday and the Philippines Football Federations (PFF) on Thursday.
In an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, AFC said that the body is investigating the matter.
"We will definitely take action and we are currently looking into it," said an AFC spokesperson in a telephone interview yesterday.
"We received the official letter regarding the withdrawal on Wednesday, and in the letter, it was stated that Brunei regrets it is unable to participate in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers due to unavoidable circumstances.
"We have received calls from countries, especially from the Philippines following the event.
"There will be changes in the overall qualification process which is very complicated," added the spokesperson who is based at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
The Sultanate were to play hosts Philippines yesterday, Turkmenistan tomorrow and Cambodia on Tuesday.
Brunei's withdrawal has created complications in the overall qualification process, particularly in the computations for the slots allotted for the two best runners-up in all the five group qualifiers.
However, AFC have decided to award 3-0 wins to all of Brunei's opponents which will no doubt affect the country's FIFA rankings.
Turkmenistan raised the curtains with a 7-0 whipping of Cambodia yesterday, with the next match pitting Cambodia against the Philippines tomorrow. The last game will see Turkmenistan face the Philippines on Tuesday.
The 20-team qualifiers are divided into four groups of five, with the group winners and two best runners-up advancing to next year's tournament proper in the Maldives.
The AFC Challenge Cup Maldives 2014 regulations also make for some more bad news for Brunei, who will be forced to sit the next edition out as well as pay fines.
The AFC Challenge Cup Maldives 2014 regulations' Section 3:20 (c) states that "a participating member association (that) withdraws after entering or does not report for a match at any stage of the competition will be disqualified from taking part in the next edition of the competition."
AFC Executive Committee may extend the suspension depending on the gravity of the situation and/or damages.
The regulation book goes on to explain that AFC only make exceptions in cases of force majeure or superior force (events such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes) recognised by the AFC Competitions Committee.
Section 3:20 (c) also states that the participating member association is required to pay compensation for any and all damages or losses suffered by the other participating member associations, the AFC and AFC's commercial and TV partner(s) in case of withdrawal.
They will be referred to the AFC Disciplinary Committee for additional sanctions and fines depending on the gravity of the situation, then to AFC Executive Committee for final decision.
The amount of compensation will be determined by the AFC Executive Committee.
They will also be required to return to the AFC any financial stipends that had been paid to them by AFC throughout the competition or forfeit the right to the same.
The Brunei Times