German Club Denies Bid for Burmese Soccer Star
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German Club Denies Bid for Burmese Soccer Star

By PATRICK BOEHLER / THE IRRAWADDY Monday, January 30, 2012

Burma’s Kyaw Ko Ko, left, is challenged by Vietnam's Nguyen Thanh Long Giang during their bronze medal match at the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta on Nov. 21, 2011. (Photo: Getty Images)

A leading German football club has denied taking Burmese soccer star Kyaw Ko Ko on trial, contrary to reports by Soccer Myanmar last week.

“I can confirm that there has been no contact whatsoever between the 1. FC Nürnberg (1.FCN) and the said player,” club spokesperson Katharina Wildermuth told The Irrawaddy.

Soccer Myanmar caused a stir by reporting that Kyaw Ko Ko was offered a trial with the Bundesliga club. The news was also carried by the website of the Asean Football Federation.

Had the deal gone through, the 19-year-old would have been the first Burmese soccer player ever to play in a professional football league in Europe.

The striker was awarded Best Player of Myanmar 2011 last month for his performance in the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.

Myanmar won bronze after routing Laos, Brunei, the Philippines and Timor-Leste and eventually beating Vietnam 4-1 in the bronze medal rematch. Kyaw Ko Ko scored five of the teams’ 13 goals.

The US $3,000 player of the year award would have been dwarfed by the $500,000 transfer fee which the German soccer club was apparently ready to pay for Kyaw Ko Ko, according to the Soccer Myanmar report.

1.FCN, one of the oldest and most successful clubs in Germany, ranked sixth in last season's Bundesliga.

Kyaw Ko Ko currently plays in midfield for Zeya Shwe Myay FC. The football club currently ranks fifth in the Myanmar National League (MNL).

The MNL, which succeeded the largely ignored Myanmar Premier League in 2009, ran a test season in the same year and its first full season in 2010.

It is uncertain how the MNL will be able to excel as long as corruption seems to be endemic. Business tycoon Zaw Zaw, who in a leaked US embassy cable was called “one of Burma's up-and-coming cronies,” is chairman of the governing Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) which runs the league.

Zaw Zaw, who also owns Delta United FC, hired Snr-Gen Than Shwe's grandson to play on his team, according to the US embassy cable.

In March last year, Sepp Blatter, president of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), visited the soccer-crazy country and the Goal II academy in Mandalay, which his organization funds.

Upon his return to Switzerland he faced fierce media criticism and calls for an investigation into why a soccer grant had apparently been awarded to Zaw Zaw’s Max Myanmar conglomerate as opposed to the MFF.

The Ayeyarwady Football Academy in Pathein was inaugurated as a second training ground for future Burmese soccer talent in November last year. It is funded by donations from the Asian Football Confederation, claims The Myanmar Times.

Burma was one of Asia’s most successful football nations in the 1960s and 1970s, winning the Southeast Asian Games five times in a row. Then began a decline which was only somewhat halted with last year's bronze medal.

Burma will host the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw in 2013. The event comes as the country undergoes unprecedented political changes. Burma hosted the games twice in Rangoon during the 1960s, dominating the gold medals tally both times.

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Sai Lin Wrote:
Now Burma is opening to outside world. The opportunists around the world are watching Burma now. Burmese peoples need to understand about foreigners. There are many European fraudsters who travailing around the world and cheating on peoples whoever they met. Especially criminals from Romania and East Europe, they are involved in from Hi-Tech crime to minor pickpocket crimes in Europe, Japan and Australia. I read this Kyaw Ko Ko news from DVB and I comment about that news on DVB. In that news, Romania Agent has offer Kyaw Ko Ko to test with German Football Club and Burmese parent Club will received $ 500,000 for transfer fee. I wrote it, be careful and do not hand over any money to Romania Agent. I’m sure the Romania Agent will ask some money for accommodate Kyaw Ko Ko and travel arrangement for at least from $ 5000 to $ 50000. That’s a conman work. Burmese peoples have to expect a lot of Conmen in future.

nyan Wrote:
I'm not much of a politics as a teenager but if Burma is actually hosting the Sea games in 2013 i would be very proud and it's great to see the change because our players are talented and have potential to play pro in europe if the country is more opened up.

tocharian Wrote:
So no "Nürnberg trials" for Kyaw Ko Ko, but what about Nürenberg war-crime trials for Than Shwe and his cohorts? lol

By the way, I don't think Patrick Boehler has ever lived in Burma for a longer period of time, let's say, for more than a year.

All this looks like second hand information. (There are hundreds of people in Burma who know more about the Burmese football scene, if Irrawaddy is really interested)

Min Shwe Wrote:
While the blurb on Kyaw Ko Ko is true the rest of the article is silly and dated. Zaw Zaw does not own a team. Delta United (Ayeyawaddy United, fyi) switched ownership a couple of years ago because of conflict of interest.

Why don't you write about the tireless effort in part of U Zaw Zaw to improve the standards of the game. It is primarily because of the efforts of MFF, MNL and owners and our budding players (including Kyaw Ko Ko) that we now have two teams participating in AFC Cup (similar to Europa League) in Asia as well as its success in U21 and SEA games. MNL now has 14 teams, each with academy, youth and reserve teams as well which ensures a steady pipeline.

The writer seems to avoid all that and simply write about cronyism. It also seems like he is anxiously hoping for Yangon United and Ayeyawaddy to fail in the Asian tourney. Let's hope to disappoint him.

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