YANGON (17 March 2011) – FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said this week that Myanmar could play a ‘very active role’ in the sport in Asia after he opened a new football academy in the country.
Blatter, on his first visit to Myanmar, opened the academy in Mandalay ahead of a meeting with Premier Thein Sein, who is also president-elect in the new Parliament.
“Football cannot exist alone without the political and government support and therefore it’s absolutely necessary that I’m going to meet the Myanmar prime minister,” Blatter told a press conference.
“I would say that Myanmar can play a very active role, let’s say at first in ASEAN, then in Asia,” he said, referring to when Burma’s footballers were Asian champions in the 1960s.
U Zaw Zaw, chairman of the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF), told Agence France-Presse that Blatter’s visit was “essential for the development of our football standard.”
Football is Myanmar’s most popular sport and now has their own league with about 100 players on monthly salaries ranging from 300,000 kyats (USD300) to a million kyats (USD925).
Senior Gen. Than Shwe ordered business owners to own professional teams in the league in January 2009 and this gave rise to the formation of the hugely popular Myanmar National League (MNL).