Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Another dressing down for the game in Malaysia

This article appeared in Malaysiakini (and I copied it from here) and provides some people in FAM the perfect setting to get rid of KJ. Will they have the guts to do it? Or is it just those without positions that will face the wrath of the newly created regulation in FAM?

Khairy: Own goals keeping local football down
K Kabilan Feb 27, 09 3:15pm
Talk to any local football fan and you will only hear regret in his or her voice about the standards of Malaysian football today.They will most probably reminisce about the golden days of local football in the 1970s and 1980s. And it is very likely that they would not be able to name any big football stars from the current batch.

Long gone are the days when football stadiums across the country and the Causeway - the likes of Stadium Merdeka, Likas Stadium, Stadium Larkin, City Stadium and the National Stadium - were packed with hardcore fans.

It is very common now to see these stadiums half-empty or with only a handful of supporters watching a match. No match today has the intensity of a Selangor versus Singapore game of the past.

For the man on the street, there are many things wrong with Malaysian football, and each would have his or her own suggestions to revive local standards of the ‘beautiful game'.

However, Football Association of Malaysia deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin has a rather simplistic, albeit controversial, solution.

"If I have a free hand, I would suspend the league for next year," he told Malaysiakini. "I will not waste money on the league. I would stop everything, tear everything down, and start building it back from the ground up," he added.

The FAM presently runs two senior competitive leagues - the Malaysian Super League and Malaysian Premier League. Both the leagues comprise 14 teams each.The FAM also runs two cup competitions - the Malaysia Cup and the Malaysia FA Cup.Players for the national team are drawn from the teams competing in the local leagues.

At present, the national football team is without a manager and stands at a lowly rank of 164 in international standings.

Khairy also listed five reasons for the abysmal standard of Malaysian football today - lack of money, no grassroots structure to pool young players from, no professional coaches, the scourge of corruption among players and losing supporters to the European leagues.

"Football today suffers from a lack of money. We have lost the tobacco sponsorship. So most of the money that we get is spent on the league and all the national teams, both of which are crap," he admitted.

It must be noted that about RM300 million was pumped into the FAM from 1997-2005 by then sponsor Dunhill. This funding has now dried up and the FAM is seeking fresh aid from the government to revitalise the local football scene.

The cash-flow problem is also a reason why local teams have been barred by the FAM from hiring foreign players.

Many teams have struggled to pay the wages of these foreign players, leaving them unpaid or worse still, having their contracts terminated without proper reasons.

Supporters and football pundits have argued that the presence of these foreign players would have added glamour to the league - like how it has done for the Japanese league.

The other view - which eventually won the day - was that the presence of foreign players would hamper the growth of local talent.

Several local teams too have been guilty of hiring questionable foreign players who are eventually let off due to their sub-playing standards.

Khairy, however, felt that it was not just the presence of foreign players that was hampering the growth of the local talent. He blames that squarely on a lack of opportunities for young local talents to be spotted.

"We don't have a grassroots structure anymore. There are no more (new) state-run academies or any local leagues for new talents to come up and be identified," he said.

Match-fixing still rampant. And in tandem with this, his third reason for the present malady appears - a lack of professional coaches in football academies or schools of excellence.

"The academies are not staffed with professional coaches. Coaches are not trained properly. And they are not licensed properly," he charged.

Khairy also did not mince his word when he said that corruption still existed in the game."There is still some element of graft in the game, which still affects the top level personnel throwing games and things like that (away)," he said, with his demeanour and body language suggesting that even those in the top echelons of FAM have no idea how to tackle the problem.

The golden era of Malaysian football came to a complete halt in 1994 when almost 100 players - including many household names and international players - were barred for life from playing, for their part in match-fixing in 1994-1995.

Ever since, the standard of Malaysian football has never been the same.

All league results are now viewed with a suspicious eye - be it a big-margin win or an upset defeat. And to make things worse, several players were hauled up last year for allegedly selling matches.

Khairy's admission of corruption in the game only adds confirmation to the suspicion that bookies are still controlling local football leagues.

Rounding up his fifth reason for the fall from grace of Malaysian football, Khairy blamed the popular European leagues of taking away supporters from local matches.Local media has a role too

He, however, said the European leagues alone were not responsible for the troubles plaguing Malaysian football. In fact, local supporters have turned to the European leagues as a result of troubles in local football.

"It's a vicious cycle. People are not interested in local football. "Simply because at the moment Astro decides to show games on a Saturday night, people don't go to the stadium anymore," he said.

He also blamed some of the local newspapers for a lack of coverage on local football.

"It's all about Manchester United, about Liverpool, about Arsenal, so how do you get out of the vicious cycle if Malaysians themselves couldn't care less?"

If I ask you to name five players from the national team, can you? Hard pressed, right?" he said.
Given such circumstances, he said, his remedy to solve the problem would be to suspend the local league for a year and try to start afresh from the grassroots level.

Khairy might be on to something as he has tasted success before with his MyTeam - a team playing in the Super League with unknown football players selected at trials held around Malaysia.

COMMENT - hmm. The golden days of Malaysian football ended when 100 players were convicted of match fixing! So Malaysia's best days were when games were fixed? Says it all really.

It's all about manchester United etc...the FA proved that by throwing their dummy out the pram when they weren't allowed to bring them to Malaysia during the Asian Cup which they co hosted back in 2007.

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