Premier League newcomers Cardiff City, looking to grow their brand awareness ahead of a possible initial public offering, have canceled 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 exclusively reported that the club’s Malaysian billionaire owner, Vincent Tan, was exploring an initial public offering of the team after they sealed promotion to the lucrative English Premier League.
Tan, who owns 36.1 percent of the club and is the former chairman of conglomerate Berjaya Group, said the cancelation 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 in a statement on the Welsh club’s Web site 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,” the statement added.
Kuala Lumpur remained shrouded in haze yesterday as thick “hazardous” smog that has covered Malaysia and Singapore for a week persisted.
The air quality in Singapore has improved significantly in recent days, but the crisis — caused mostly by 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 of Malaysia chief executive officer Ramlan Abdul Aziz told Malaysia’s New Straits Times daily newspaper yesterday.
Ramlan said it was unhealthy to play matches if the Air Pollution Index was higher than 100, but the paper reported that Tuesday’s Super League match between PKNS and Selangor went ahead on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur despite a reading of 252.