Opinion – Forget SEA Games Controversy, Let Athletes Do the Talking

Athletes Do the Talking

Reporting on the upcoming SEA Games, the first to be held in Cambodia should have been much more about sport, instead it has been mired in a whole heap of controversy.

The list of controversies is no short one, ranging from the naming of certain sports, broadcasting rights to even the latest draw for the football competition. In our opinion at least, these are buy side shows and those complaining should simply be quiet and Leo their talking where it counts – in the field of play.

Kun Khmer or Muoy Thai?

Perhaps the most ridiculous of the “controversies” is whether a certain kickboxing genre should be called Kun Khmer, or Muoy Thai. Said controversy has led to threats of boycotts, bans and whole heap of bad blood between Thailand and Cambodia.

It is my personal opinion and indeed convention in the SEA Games that the hosts get to pick and name the sports. Therefore at 2023 Cambodia the sport is Kun Khmer pure and simple.

This does not mean that I am taking sides in who invented the sport, or whatever, as quite simply I do not care. And as Shakespeare said “Would a rose by any other name smell so sweet”?.

If Thailand really want to make a point, go out and win, stop whining before it has even started.

You can read more about this spat here.

The football SEA Games controversy

As only recently reported by BPVE some nations have complained about the “easy” group for Cambodia, as well as the games being Under 22, rather than Under 23 and the “fact” that this will somehow give Cambodia an undue advantage.

This is is ridiculous for a number of reasons. Firstly every host country from the FIFA World Cup down is seeded in such a way that their group is slightly easier. Rightly, or wrongly this is just the case.

Secondly Cambodia has a much smaller population than companies Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Therefore at any age group they simply have the advantage over Cambodia. Should the draw have been sooner and the rules made more clear? Perhaps, but this is the first major sporting event held in the country since the 1960’s and some leeway should be granted.

Again football speaks for itself, so let he players decide this on the pitch, before crying foul before a ball has been kicked.

To read about GANEFO click here.

And the rest of the controversies…..

First among these is broadcasting rights and their price, again led by Thailand.

All Cambodia have done is increase the prices to reflect the market value of the games, something almost all countries have agreed upon by paying the fee charged to them.

In my opinion this again is the right thing to do. To be taken seriously in sport, business and every other sector ASEAN needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Cambodia is fast becoming a middle-income country and it must behave as such.

To read about Cambodia becoming middle-income click here

And as for all the other controversies, such as Brazilians being granted Cambodian citizenship, or whatever other agendas the tabloids of South-East Asia put out, none of it matters.

What matters is sport, so lets leave the athletes, not the bureaucrats and journalists to do the talking whether it matters, on the field of play.

This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily represent the views of BPVE, or Cambodia Sports Review.

This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.


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