Liberia, Jamaica friendly canceled

Updated: July 18, 2012, 4:33 PM ET
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A planned match between Liberia and Jamaica in Connecticut was cancelled Tuesday after the promoter acknowledged the teams never agreed to play.

Tickets for the international friendly, scheduled for July 28 at Rentschler Field, went on sale July 9.

Neil Buethe, a spokesman for the United States Soccer Federation, said his organization never gave the match its required sanction, something that is supposed to occur before it is advertised and tickets go on sale.

"There was some discussion about a promoter applying for the match," Buethe said. "But he never even turned in an application to us for the game."

The soccer federations in Liberia and Jamaica had each posted messages on their websites cautioning fans not to buy tickets for the match.

"It appears that a promoter has acted unprofessionally in advertising this game between the two countries and consequently the JFF has advised the US Soccer Federation and FIFA accordingly," the Jamaica Football Federation said in its statement.

Samuel Sampson, a spokesman for Singapore-based promoter Ricky Swen and his company, Swen Labels International, said financial negotiations with Liberia fell through at the last minute. Sampson said Swen is sanctioned by FIFA as a match agent, but has never arranged a match in the United States. He said the promoter was acting in good faith.

"When we were in negotiations with both teams we had assurances from both teams that yes, they were both committed to play," he said. "We didn't want to wait until the last day before we started selling tickets."

He says Swen is working to replace Liberia with Kenya for a match that would be held at Rentschler field in August.

The normal procedure, Buethe said, is for a promoter to secure signed agreements from the teams involved and the venue, receive a sanction from the USSF and then begin promoting the match.

He said the promoter could face a $1,000 fine for selling tickets before the match had been arranged.

Paul Marte, a spokesman for Bushnell Management, which manages the state-owned stadium, said it was pulling advertisements for the match from its website on Tuesday and ending ticket sales. He did not know how many fans had already purchased tickets, but said they would receive full refunds.

"We don't actually believe it was a hoax," he said. "Everything seems perfectly (legitimate) and we are working with the promoter for two other matches in August and September. But we now learned the lesson. We're not going to put step two before step one."


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press