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SEA Games: Organisers vow no trouble at football final
[KUALA LUMPUR] Southeast Asian Games organisers Monday played down fears that trouble might erupt at the men's football finals and insisted the multisport event was going smoothly despite a string of mishaps.
Malaysia are set to play Thailand on Tuesday for the men's football gold medal, in one of the most hotly anticipated fixtures of the Games.
But there have already been problems surrounding football matches. Malaysian fans came under fire for chanting "Singapore dogs" when their side played the city-state and two Myanmar fans were beaten up.
Football has caused trouble at previous SEA Games - there was a deadly stampede in the final at the Jakarta games in 2011.
But SEA Games Federation president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar played down concerns of possible trouble on Tuesday, noting fans in the semi-finals had been "very well-behaved".
Low Beng Choo, secretary of the Games' sports and technical committee, told reporters sports officials had already met representatives of Malaysian fan groups before the semi-finals.
"I don't think we need to meet them again... we've reached an understanding," she said.
The Games - which bring together athletes from 11 nations - have been hit by a string of problems, from athletes getting food poisoning, to an upside-down flag that caused fury in Indonesia and squash players from Myanmar being injured in a bus crash.
But Tunku Imran rejected criticism that the event had not gone well, insisting overall the organisers had got a "very good final result".
However he also revealed that the number of Malaysian athletes who had fallen ill in an outbreak of food poisoning had risen to 30, up from 16 cases previously reported.
Ms Low indicated they were not seriously sick, saying only one had been forced to miss an event.
Another flag gaffe hit the headlines at the end of last week, when eight of the Games' 11 participating countries had the wrong flags assigned to them on a scoreboard on a state television channel.
National broadcaster RTM subsequently apologised for the mix-up, calling it "an unintentional error".