Chelsea could be forced to cancel the Malaysian leg of their Asian end-of-season tour if Israeli coach Avram Grant is not allowed into the country. The Far East nation does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and its citizens — including Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim — who must obtain special permission to travel there. The Malaysia FA have informed tour organisers that they would raise the issue with the foreign ministry in order to obtain clearance for the pair.
Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, who announced matches in Malaysia on July 29 and in China tentatively on July 23 in the southern city of Guangzhou, was confident that approval would be secured.
“We really do not anticipate that to be a problem,” Kenyon said, when asked about Grant’s visa. “We clearly could not travel without our top coach but think it can be solved.” The JC understands that the Malaysian FA is asking their Foreign Ministry to make a special exception for Grant. In explaining his confidence that the Blues visit to Malaysia will go ahead, Kenyon referred to the fact that an exemption was given to the Israel cricket team in 1997 so that they could play in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Trophy.