Saturday, April 23, 1994

Selling an excuse (22/04/1994 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 22/04/1994
Headline : Selling an excuse

ENOUGH is enough! Ever since the soccer season kicked off with the FA Cup
last month, week after week, when a team loses, it is either because the
team was on the `take' or individual players `were involved'.
It has become a lame excuse for losing teams and now even soccer fans
and sportswriters have joined in the bandwagon to say that matches have
been rigged.
The height of the issue surely must be when an afternoon daily (not
Malay Mail) went front page with a report that the Premier League match
between Selangor and Malacca had been rigged and even had the result - 3-1
in favour of Selangor. The end result was 1-1.
Then the following week, Malacca fans were chanting that coach G.
Torairaju and his players had `sold out' when they lost to Singapore.
When Sabah lost 1-5 to Perak, there were suspicions also.
Even Pahang were suspected for their poor showing, but their team
management have cleared them of it after some investigations.
Penang is another team plaqued with these accusations.
Even referees are not spared when home fans accused S. Subramonoven of
being biased in the match against Negri Sembilan just because he flashed
five yellow cards against their players.
State FAs accuse their players are on the `take', but again nothing much
is done because the same players continue to play.
In most cases, these issues come about in teams where they have too many
Some of these officials, who have not the slightest clue about the game,
indulge themselves in talks of bribery and get carried away. And the next
thing you know, they are accusing their players of being dishonest.
Probably these States should take a look at Sarawak.
When was the last time anyone heard Sarawak say anything about bribery
when they lose a match?
Not in a long time - at least not since Alan Vest took charge of the
team because he is a man who does not believe in bribery although he has
heard a lot about it since coming to Malaysia.
Secondly, he believes in his players and has drilled it into them that
if he ever finds out that any of his players are involved, that will be
the last he will see of them.
Above all, Vest is a professional who accepts defeats and wins in the
true spirit of the game.
Although the bribery problem has been in existence for a while now,
nothing much has been done about it.
And it serves no purpose just talking about it week in and week out.
So far, only Armed Forces and Negri Sembilan have taken some positive
Armed Forces FA in 1991 brought Wee Yew Lee to the docks and found him
guilty of bribery.
Negri FA have made an official report to the Negri Sembilan Anti-
Corruption Agency (ACA) on allegations of match-fixing by several of their
players last season during the Semi-Pro League.
Earlier, NSFA had set up a four-member board of inquiry who had come up
with a report and submitted to the ACA to facilitate investigations. The
full investigations are expected to be completed in a month.
The FA of Malaysia, on the other hand, have set up a special task force
comprising police and ACA officers to look into the menace.
Deputy Inspector General Police Datuk Samsuri Arshad has also appealed
to the public to come forward with information.
But until and when State FAs, fans and sportswriters come forward with
information, there is little that can be done.
Thus, it is pointless, talking about the menace when nobody wants to
take the responsibility to bring up the matter to the relevant authorities
and put players to pastures if they are really guilty.
Until then, it is hoped that teams, officials, fans and sportswriters
stop using bribery as a lame excuse each time a team loses.
Winning is important but somebody has to lose sometimes.
Let us watch the matches in the true spirit of the game. Let us hope
that all those involved will adopt a `fair play' attitude to make the game
interesting and entertaining.

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