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The Secretary of the Lethwae (Myanmar traditional boxing) Federation, Sai Zaw Zaw, has told Mizzima that because Lethwae is a professional sport in Myanmar it cannot be part of this December’s SEA Games in Naypyidaw.

“Our Myanmar traditional boxing is at a professional competition level, so it’s not easy to register it as a SEA Games sport,” he said. “Myanmar traditional boxing is at an international standard whilst the SEA Games are an amateur competition.

“The Sea Games are for medals, not for money,” he added.

In Lethwae, a martial art similar to Thai kickboxing, prize money at a ringside event in Myanmar can vary between 30,000 kyat (US $30) and 4 million kyat ($4,000) per boxer.

Sai Zaw Zaw added: “In my opinion, we should try to get Lethwae included at other international sports events rather than focus on the SEA Games. By doing so, the sport will become well known all over the world and can also help promote the nation.

“Now everyone knows boxer Aung La [cage fighter in the USA] is from Myanmar. There are Lethwae clubs in Russia and Australia. There is not much different between Thai boxing and Myanmar boxing. We use knees more than the Thais. So, if we adjust Lethwae to become a registered SEA Games sport, we are worried that it may become just a lesser known version of Muay Thai [Thai Boxing].”

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter shakes hands with Zaw Zaw, the president of the Myanmar Football Federation, after a press conference at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon on March 15, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Myanmar Football Federation [MFF] chairman Zaw Zaw has told Mizzima that he only works as the chairman of the MFF because he loves his country and not because he wants to make money.

“Since the very beginning, I have worked as the MFF chairman not because I want money. I work only because I love my country. The football federation needs to spend several million of US dollars. I have to almost solely contribute my own money to the funding [of the MFF],” said Zaw Zaw.

  “MFF only recently got FIFA’s grant and sponsorships. But only about six national selected teams play international football matches a year. If I want to make money, I’ll do other businesses,” said Zaw Zaw.

  Zaw Zaw has worked as the chairman of MFF for his second four-year term. His second term will end in December 2013.

 He invited any other people who will be capable to improve Myanmar’s football to stand for the MFF chairman election for the next four-year term.

“I want to invite anyone who will be capable to improve Myanmar’s football to contest me in the MFF chairman election to be held in December,” said Zaw Zaw.

 MFF general secretary Tin Aung said that since Zaw Zaw began working as the chairman of the MFF, Myanmar’s football sector has achieved better status in the international level and received many opportunities to cooperate with FIFA.

 “U Zaw Zaw wants Myanmar’s football sector to improve. Myanmar’s football sector has markedly improved during his tenure. So, even FIFA has to praise it,” said Tin Aung.

“Myanmar could successfully carry out five FIFA Goal Projects. So in the communities of FIFA, Myanmar is known as a country that can successfully complete the projects even before the project was given to Myanmar,” said Tin Aung.

As well as working as MFF chairman Zaw Zaw also works as an executive of the Asian Football Confederation, chairman of the Organizing Committee for AFC Youth Competitions, a member of the ASEAN Football Federation [AFF], a member of the Emergency Committee of the AFF, a member of the Finance and Marketing Committee of AFF and chairman of the Media Committee within the AFF.

Zaw Zaw, the owner of Max Myanmar, is one of wealthiest and most important businessmen in Myanmar.
The Myanmar National League (MNL), Myanmar’s top football tier, only achieved professional status in 2009 and now boasts twelve teams.

Myanmar was banned from taking part in the qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ after crowd trouble at a game against Oman back in 2011. The exclusion was later annulled after a successful appeal from the MFF.

But the MFF are now required to play all their home qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup on neutral ground in another country.

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Photo: KBZ Bank via Facebook

Kanbawza Bank (KBZ) is to install ATMs at the sites of the 27th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) to be held in Myanmar in December, state media reported on Monday.

KBZ is reported to have signed an MoU with SEA Games organizers Dentsu & JK Co on Sunday to install the facilities at Naypyitaw, Mandalay and Ngwehsaung, the three venues for the games.

According to the New Light of Myanmar, the ATMs will accept VISA, MasterCard and MPU cards. Exchange counters will also be available for athletes and fans alike.

The report said that a special service of charter flights to venues will be offered by Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and AIR KBZ for the duration of the SEA Games which take place from December 11 to 22.

Related articles:

  1. Philippines’ sports chief calls for SEA Games boycott
  2. Burma drops ball on SEA Games
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New SkyNet deal means Myanmar football fans can watch all the games, replays and analysis of Manchester United all season long. Photo:Manchester United

Teashops around Myanmar will undoubtedly enjoy some lively late nights from this August onward as the world’s most popular football team, Manchester United, on Monday announced it had signed a deal to broadcast its own private channel next season through Myanmar’s SkyNet.

With some 23 million viewers tuning into a Manchester United game within the first seven months of last season, SkyNet is confident Manchester United Television (MUTV) will be popular in football-fanatical Myanmar, a statement on the club website said on Monday.

A first-time deal has been also been struck up with Norway’s TV2, where the club also has a large fan base. The channel has also announced a two-year extension to its partnership with Icelandic TV station 365.

Manchester United commercial director Richard Arnold said: “Manchester United is fortunate enough to have 659 million followers around the globe and the creation of agreements, like the ones we have with SkyNet, TV2 and 365, allows us to bring them closer to the club they love. The new agreements mean that MUTV now has 22 international broadcast partners, covering 56 territories worldwide including parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Through our partnerships, tens of millions of people now have access to MUTV content.”

Speaking to Mizzima on Monday, local sports journalist Ye Yint said, “People in Myanmar follow Manchester United because they are globally famous, Sir Alex Ferguson and the celebrities like Beckham, Ronaldo and Rooney are all loved here.”

He added, “Our people are football crazy. They want to win every match and Man U wins many matches. Their players have a fighting spirit and this spirit is like the Myanmar’s people’s spirit. That’s why they cheer for Man U.”

MUTV’s connection in Myanmar follows the recent visit of Man United legends Andy Cole, Dennis Irwin, Lee Sharpe and Clayton Blackmore.

The players teamed up with two MNL sides’ charity match against Myanmar’s national team. The event was organised by the Ayeyarwady Foundation which donated US$30,000 to health and education causes at a charity dinner afterwards.

SkyNet have acquired the rights to broadcast the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and the English Premier League for the 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16 seasons.

Related articles:

  1. Myanmar’s SkyNet nets the 2014 World Cup
  2. English Premier League coming to Burma’s screens
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Naypyitaw's Zabuthiri Football Stadium is where the opening and closing ceremonies of the SEA Games will be held in December 2013. Photo: Myo Thant/Mizzima
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia is boycotting the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar in December and will encourage his four commissioners to do the same, according to a report on Tuesday by Abac Cordero in the Philippine Star.

The PSC chief has openly expressed his dismay over Myanmar’s attempt to manipulate the results of the biennial event in favor of its athletes, the report said, noting that the Myanmar authorities had removed sports such as gymnastics, beach volleyball, baseball, dance sports and lawn tennis in favor of local martial arts barely known in other countries.

“Of the 36 events which the Filipinos won in the last SEA Games, 16 will not be played in Myanmar,” the report said.

“As chairman of the PSC, I will not attend the SEA Games and will encourage my commissioners to do the same. If the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will not show any sign of protest, the government will,” said Garcia.

The PSC chairman said he will suggest to POC president Jose Cojuangco that he host a meeting among members of the SEA Games Federation to discuss the matter.

Related articles:
  1. Dentsu to oversee SEA Games sponsors
  2. Burma drops ball on SEA Games
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Myanmar tennis players and fans will be upset that the country has been forced to cancel hosting a Davis Cup series of matches. Photo: Robert Davis
Myanmar has cancelled a series of Davis Cup matches in Yangon after security fears were raised following a recent outbreak of religious violence, local tennis officials said Tuesday.

Matches in Asia-Oceania groups III and IV set for this week were scrapped after the world tennis body questioned players' safety following anti-Muslim riots in March which left at least 43 people dead.

Players from Muslim nations such as Bahrain, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were due to compete in the event, which comes as Myanmar prepares to host a Southeast Asian Games seen as a coming out party for the former junta-ruled nation.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) voiced "security concerns... because of what happened in Meiktila," Lay Naing, secretary of the Myanmar Tennis Federation, told AFP, referring to the town where violence erupted in March.

"The other (participating) countries have also questioned our security," he said, adding Myanmar's sport ministry had decided to "postpone" the matches on April 13.

A second federation official, requesting anonymity, said the players had to cancel their flights at the last minute.

On its website the ITF said it was yet to decide a new date and venue for the round-robin international competition, but Myanmar tennis officials said it would not take place in their country.

The cancellation follows controversy early this month when a Davis Cup tie between Pakistan and New Zealand—played in Myanmar because of parlous security in the Muslim nation—was abandoned because of an unplayable court.

Myanmar is set to host the Southeast Asian Games—a regional athletics competition—in December, with rival nations keenly watching preparations as the former pariah state takes tentative steps back onto the global stage.

Related article:
  1. Myanmar to stage Davis Cup festival
For more background:
  1. International community condemns Meiktila riots
  2. Burma drops ball on SEA Games