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AFC Cup tie moved to neutral venue after Australia denies Myanmar club visas

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An AFC Cup tie between Australia’s Macarthur FC and Shan United of Myanmar has been moved from Sydney to a neutral venue in Bangkok after the Australian government refused to grant visas to the visiting players, Football Australia (FA) said on Monday.

Macarthur, an A-League club based in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown, was criticised by human rights groups for playing an away match against Shan United in Yangon in late September.

The return fixture will now be played at Bangkok’s BG Stadium on Thursday.

“This move to a neutral venue follows the Australian government declining to grant Australian visas for Shan United FC players and officials, meaning there was no viable way of playing the game on Australian soil,” the FA said in a statement.

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Myanmar has been embroiled in bloody conflict since the country’s military took power in a coup against the elected government in 2021.

A recent surge in fighting between the military and ethnic minority insurgents, as well as pro-democracy militias, has displaced tens of thousands of people. The Australian government currently advises against travel to Myanmar “due to the dangerous security situation”.

Visas to enter Australia are granted or refused on a case-by-case basis.

Macarthur would have had to forfeit its place in the second-tier continental club competition if it had failed to fulfil the fixture in Myanmar or been unable to stage the return match.

“Football Australia would like to thank the (Asian Football Confederation) for their approval of these alternative arrangements,” the FA statement added.

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