Saturday, January 7, 2006

Time to crack the whip, FAM (06/01/2006 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 06/01/2006
Headline : Time to crack the whip, FAM

IT is hoped the FA of Malaysia (FAM) disciplinary board, who meet today,
come down hard on errant officials and players, who have brought the game
into disrepute with their conduct in Super League matches, just one month
into the competition for the 2005/06 season.
It is also hoped the disciplinary board look into the unbecoming
conduct of fans. Assistant referee being hit by objects thrown by fans in
the match between Perak and MPPJ at the Perak Stadium last Saturday.
In an earlier match between Selangor and Negri Sembilan at the National
Stadium in Bukit Jalil, several Selangor players were involved in a
fracas with their own supporters who were disappointed with the Red
Giants' performance.
Treble champions last season, Selangor have only won one out of five
matches played so far and are second last in the Super League table of
eight teams.
Last year, Selangor fans were also in involved several incidents,
including the burning and vandalism of seats at the Shah Alam Stadium,
with an assistant referee being injured. I had asked the authorities to
take these matters seriously in this column, but my pleas seemed to have
fallen on deaf ears.
And last month, fans were fighting with one another in the terraces
during the Asian Under-20 Youth qualifying match between Malaysia and
This is certainly not the sporting culture Malaysians are known for,
and it is better to check the problem before Malaysian soccer is
associated with hooliganism.
Even worse, FAM could face heavy penalties from the Asian Football
Federation (AFC) as the international governing body, FIFA, view
hooliganism seriously.
In Europe, action has been taken where matches are played to empty
stadiums and heavy fines imposed by the authorities.
With Malaysian soccer not really making any headway in standards in
recent years, this ugly side of the game is the last thing the game needs.
FAM secretary-general, Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, had said the
indiscipline of officials, players and fans will be viewed seriously and
action taken.
How stern the actions are going to be is anybody's guess.
Soccer managers and players who have brought the game into disrepute
have to be punished.
It may be the trend for managers in the English Premier League to make
comments on referees, but at least these managers are qualified coaches
who know the game and are not politicians who have hardly any foundation
in the game.
Perak team manager Jamal Nasir Rasdi's call for referee Manjit Singh to
quit was totally uncalled for.
Manjit was a FIFA referee two years ago and is now again fighting hard
to get back into the list of six FIFA-sanctioned referees and eight
assistant referees from Malaysia.
Manjit, from Kuala Lumpur, is among the rare breed of Sikhs who have
taken up refereeing and is one of two in the list of national referees,
with the other being Selinder Singh from Perak.
Among the previous top Sikh Malaysian FIFA referees were Sarban Singh,
Jeswant Singh and Karpal Singh.
Manjit, an engineer with Malaysia Airlines, has completed refereeing
courses to be where he is today and for Jamal to ask him to quit because
he was unhappy with some of his decisions, was unnecessary.
The men-in-black have always bore the brunt from managers, coaches,
players, fans and even the media, when things do not go well.
But they are, after all, humans and can make mistakes, especially when
under pressure.
The sad part is the match officials are not allowed to talk to the
media to voice their opinions, which will help in giving a more balanced
They are also subject to the scrutiny of the referees' commissioner.
When they do not live up to expectations, they are penalised, and are
left out of the roster for a period or at times even downgraded!
There is no doubt the standard of refereeing has been on the decline
for some time now, just like the standard of the game.
But Malaysia have still managed to see one FIFA referee, Subkhiddin
Salleh, being shortlisted among six Asians for the World Cup in Germany
in June.
Instead of taking swipes in the media, especially on the downgrading
issue, there are other channels for team officials to vent their
frustrations or dissatisfaction with match officials.
Player Amri Yahya, who received two red cards in five matches and has a
record of indiscipline with match officials, including spitting at a
referee in an international match, was fined and banned.
Other similar cases must also be severely dealt with.
Players, officials and fans are role models to the declining number of
the younger generation of Malaysian soccer followers, who prefer to watch
EPL and European matches.
And if these people cannot set good examples, it is certainly not going
to help the game, but only serves to worsen the situation and make it
less appealing.
The situation has to be addressed immediately and stern action taken
for the sake of Malaysian soccer's future.

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