WHAT’S THE REAL STORY?

READ THE BOLD TEXT, WERE MALAYSIA AWARE THAT IT WAS TO BE A TWO TEAM AFFAIR AND WHY DENY THAT MALAYSIA HAD THE VISAS?

Organizers for the Green Soccer Bowl confirmed this morning that the event has been canceled less than a week before it was to be held at the Silverdome.

Five international teams initially were scheduled to meet over the weekend of Feb. 12; then the matches were switched to May 21-23 with teams from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malaysia and Puerto Rico slated to participate.

Then the event was downsized to a one-day event. Four area youth soccer teams were supposed to play exhibition games, followed by Kenya vs. Malaysia at 4 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve canceled,” said Pius Oleh, a former defenseman for Nigeria’s senior national team who created the event. “All the teams didn’t get a visa.”
The Football Association of Malaysia released a statement today saying it withdrew its team from the Green Soccer Bowl because “there were issues with Ghana’s and Puerto Rico’s visa application, hence their withdrawal.”
Oleh said ticket buyers will be issued refunds. He said he didn’t know how many tickets had been sold. For more information, visit www.greensoccerbowl.com.
When the event was announced in February, it was met with skepticism by those in the local soccer community.
Roger Faulkner, president of the 1994 FIFA World Cup Detroit host committee, wondered then about Ghana’s involvement.
“I’m surprised that Ghana would send their whole national squad over here to play a game on artificial turf a month before the (World Cup) games are played in South Africa, but apparently that’s the case,” Faulkner said at the time.
Faulkner said today he felt sorry for Oleh, but wasn’t surprised the event was canceled.
“I told him some months ago that I did not believe this was viable,” Faulkner said. “I think it was a brave effort, but it just wasn’t going to happen.”
Faulkner said Andreas Apostolopoulos, the Toronto real estate developer who recently bought the Silverdome in an auction for $583,000, is a soccer supporter.
Faulkner hopes that soccer eventually will return to the Silverdome.
The venue hosted first-round games in the 1994 World Cup and was home to the Detroit Express of the now-defunct North American Soccer League in 1978-80.

“Obviously our long-term goal is to have Major League Soccer here,” Faulkner said. “I think had these games gone ahead, and with very small crowds at the Silverdome, it probably would not have enhanced our reputation as a soccer market. So this is a bit of a sense of relief, although I’m really sorry for Pius. His enthusiasm is infectious, but I thought it was an ill-conceived project.”