Cardiff City cancel tour of Malaysia because of regional air pollution crisis
Putting welfare of the players first, Premier League newcomers cancel promotional tour of Malaysia because of a regional air pollution crisis
Premier League newcomers Cardiff City, looking to grow their brand awareness ahead of a possible IPO, cancelled their six-day promotional tour of Malaysia this week because of the air pollution crisis in Southeast Asia.
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay and forward Craig Bellamy were among a party of club representatives who were due to conduct promotional activities in Kuala Lumpur from today.
Last month Reuters reported that Malaysian billionaire owner Vincent Tan was exploring an IPO of the team after they sealed promotion to the lucrative English Premier League.
Tan, who owns 36.1 per cent of the club and is the former chairman of conglomerate Berjaya Group, said the cancellation of the tour was a missed opportunity.
"A schedule of events had been put in place ahead of the opening Premier League fixtures, further raising awareness of Cardiff City Football Club in Malaysia," Tan said on the Welsh club's website on Tuesday.
"However due to the current poor air quality in Kuala Lumpur, it has been decided for the welfare of all concerned to delay the trip, re-establishing plans in the future when the manager and players can better interact with Malaysian based supporters in a suitable environment."
Kuala Lumpur remained shrouded in smog yesterday as the environmental crisis continued after a week of thick hazardous smoke covered Malaysia and neighbours Singapore.
Air quality in Singapore has improved significantly in recent days but the crisis - caused mostly from fires set on palm oil plantations on Indonesia's Sumatra island - could cost the two countries an estimated US$9 billion.
While Cardiff opted against breathing in the poor air, local matches have continued to be played in Malaysia despite hazardous pollution readings and warnings.
"It is unhealthy, especially for athletes who train intensively. Prolonged exposure could cause cell mutations leading to cancer," National Sports Institute chief executive officer Ramlan Abdul Aziz told Malaysia's New Straits Times daily yesterday.
Ramlan said it was unhealthy to play any matches if the air pollution index was over 100. The paper said Tuesday's Super League match between PKNS and Selangor went ahead on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur despite a reading of 252.
English Premier League side Chelsea are due to play an exhibition match in Malaysia next month and Spanish champions Barcelona are expected to play a friendly in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said they were doing everything they could to contain the fires on the island of Sumatra, including using military aircraft to water bomb the blazes.