Thursday, February 11, 2016


Kelantan's New Shirt Goes Beyond The Pale

For decades Kelantan were nothing more than also rans in Malaysian football. For all their potential in Kota Bahru and their vast state neighbouring Thailand they had made little impact on the football conciousness and it wasn't until the 21st century that they started making ripples.

In 2000 they lifted their first honour, the second tier title but it wasn't until nine years later they started turning those ripples into something stronger. 2009 saw them compete in the top flight for the first time in their history and they finished runners up in the FA Cup and the Malaysia Cup.

Twelve months later and they lifted the Malaysia Cup for the first time in their history and suddenly Kelantan was on the football map. In 2011 they won the Malaysian Super League for the first time and a year later won all three trophies as well as reaching the Quarter Finals of the AFC Cup. The glory days didn't last for ever though as the likes of Johor Darul Tazim and Pahang responded to the challenge thrown down by the noisy north easterners with more cash and, just as important, more professionalism. There was a runners up in last season's FA Cup Final but that was set against a backdrop of a relegation battle and allegations of players and coaches going unpaid as the club patently failed to build on its glory years.

And here we are hours before the 2016 season kicks off yet already Kelantan have been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The blunders started last month when club president Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Annuar Musa (the first five words are titles he has acquired) announced on his Facebook page new signings the club had made.

'It seems that the search for three foreign players has reached it’s target. Research after research was conducted to fit the needs of K. Devan. 2 strikers, 1 midfielder… BLACK-WHITE-WHITE… 6’1″-6’2″-6’3″… 33th-27th-22th…it’s quite expensive..hopefully they are able to be in Kota Bharu before the 25th, to be introduced to the fans' (translation from the original comes from Fourth Official)

Now he probably felt he was being quite helpful and jumping the gun by showing how active the club had been in he transfer market but while he did not disclose the players' names he was happy to reveal the position they played, their skin colour, their height and their ages. Yeap, their skin colour. You read that bit right.

Unfortunately race continues to play an important role in Malaysian political life, with the Kelantan president once telling a rally it was ok to be racist, despite FIFA's stance on the issue,and according the Fourth Official there was little reaction to Annuar's colour coded news but he did later remove the post.

As if that was not enough we now have a rebranded Kelantan, known for sponsorship purposes as  Pamoga Qu Puteh The Red Warriors, yeap, give me a P, back in the news days ahead of their opening game of the season away to Perak with the owner of their new sponsor extolling the virtues of the clubs new shirt.

Hazmiza Othman is the lady behind the new sponsorship deal and she has been keen to big up her company as you would expect. And as you would expect in these increasingly corporate times a football shirt is no longer something you wear when you kick a ball around. It has gone from sports wear to fashion to, in Kelantan's case, a skin whitener!

'The thread of the jerseys is created using the latest technology and the shirts are manufactured in three countries – China, Thailand and Vietnam.
'The jerseys are capable of absorbing sweat and can whiten skin. I’m a visionary and when I do something, I make sure it benefits everyone
'The subsequent drying of the absorbed sweat will whiten the wearers’ skin, as if the person had just stepped out of a sauna.  

'I have been wanting to implement the technology behind this jersey in my beauty products for some time now. But now that I have to design football jerseys, I thought I might as well marry the two.' (translation comes from here)

From a marketing point of view of course it is brilliant. I had never heard of her before and a mention on this here blog will ensure at least five other people will have at least come across her name for a first time. But a skin whitener? I know there is an unhealthy obsession with such products in this part of the world and I know football does need outside sponsorship but isn't a shirt that claims to make skin whiter just a bit beyond the pale?

I wonder how one time Mali international Dramane Traore feels going into his debut season in the North East of Malaysia?

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