Tuesday, September 09, 2008


The Malaysian FA

The Malaysian FA gets a torrid time around the region. Last season they stubbornly insisted Manchester United play a friendly game in KL despite the fact they were hosting the Asian Cup, Asia's Euro Championships, at the time.

More recently they dusted off the bunting to welcome Chelsea and the chance for officials to beam on the front pages.

Top Corner, Star Sports weekly wrap up of South East Asian football, frequently has the hapless FAM in their sights and most recently the good orang decided what Malaysian football needed was no foreigners. So contracts were cancelled and quality players like Marlon Alex James were sent away with a terima kasih but don't come back. Unless it's on holiday in which case Malaysia is truly Asia.

There is nothing like kicking someone, something, when they're down. Now comes this full frontal assault from one of Malaysia's leading papers. Of course they can't have a pop at the government so the FAM are an easy target.

Sunday September 7, 2008
Commonsense has never been FAM’s forte
HERE'S a fact that should surprise no one. Malaysian football is in the doldrums. Nobody really cares – not the fans, who have been staying away, not the sponsors, and what the hell, not even the keepers of the nation's football, FAM.
Yes, not even FAM.
Why else would the Football Association of Malaysia choose to hold their prized tournament – the Malaysia Cup final – on Aug 23, the penultimate day of the Beijing Olympics, when everyone was watching the United States finally winning the relays – in the 4x400m.
The Malaysia Cup is THE football tournament in Malaysia. It is – no, was – highly regarded by fans and players alike. The stadiums that hosted the final were packed to the brim. Fans around the country were glued to the TV watching the match. In earlier days, fans had transistor radios up against their ears as excited commentators shouted out the proceedings.
The Malaysia Cup was the English Premier League’s FA Cup.
The Malaysia Cup has history. It dates back to 1921. Some of the biggest names in Malaysian/Singapore football have lifted the coveted Cup over the years. And it is still the most coveted and cherished Cup in the country.
The newspapers used to lap up the Malaysia Cup final, with three, four and sometimes even five pages in the run-up to the final.
The final itself was a back page lead event.
Not this year, though. With the Beijing Olympics – now acknowledged as the greatest Games ever – going on, the Cup final was a non-event.
The FAM could have – in fact, should have – been more receptive to the happenings around the world.
Couldn’t they have put off the final by a week? That would have given the media ample time, space and opportunity to build up the Cup final fever to a crescendo.
But who are we kidding? The FAM obviously think they have a product that's bigger than anything – the Olympics, the World Cup or even the European Championship.
The FA Cup this year was held during the Euros while the Malaysia Cup was held during the World Cup in Japan-South Korea.
The FAM, of course, have no need for the media to raise the profile of their product.
It wasn't just the Malaysia Cup final. The National Football Awards, sponsored by 100Plus, to honour players who made their mark in the Malaysian League – encompassing the Super League, FA Cup and Malaysia Cup – this season was held just hours before the Cup final.
With Kedah running away with all and sundry for the second consecutive time, it was no surprise that many of the Kedah players were in the hunt for the awards, including the coveted Most Valuable Player (MVP).
But what do the FAM do? They hold the awards ceremony hours before the final.
The Kedah players stayed away. They had to be focused on the final.
They won seven of the 10 awards and the coach took it all by himself, denying the players their moment of glory.
And what about the sponsors?
All that money. All that effort. And they got next to no mileage in the newspapers as the country and the world were tuned to Beijing.
Held at any other time, the occasion would have garnered much wider coverage.
As if having the award ceremony and Cup final on the same day wasn’t bad enough, the FAM Congress was also held on the same day.
The press had always had access to the FAM Congress. This time, they were shut out. The world was not to know about what was going on in the FAM.
In fact, no one can figure out what is going on in the FAM. The logic and sense of timing boggles the mind.
Commonsense dictates that the best course of action would have been to postpone the Cup final. But since when was commonsense a forte of FAM?
If it was, Malaysian football wouldn’t be in the doldrums, would it?
At their height, Malaysia were ranked No. 79 in the world in 1993. Now, we are at No. 161 – below even the likes of Maldives, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Hong Kong.
There are (204) teams in the listing. We have some 40 places to go before hitting rock bottom.

Striking a positive note I was very impressed by the Malaysian Under 16s during the recent competition in Jakarta. They showed a lot of talent and discipline and one or two of them could go on to be big names in a few years down the line.

Unless the FAM get their hands on them...

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