Friday, October 1, 2010

The final nail to Malaysian soccer

 The learned soccer gurus of Malaysia have decided that foreign players return to Malaysian soccer after 70 people attended a two-day brainstorming session two days ago. They included team officials, coaches, FA secretaries, members of the media and former internationals.
No names have been mentioned, but I presume these are the people who are interested in Malaysian soccer and are on a mission to salvage Malaysian soccer.
How much opposition there was to the re-entry of foreign players, I have no clue.
But local competitions committee chairman, Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin in a press conference after the brainstorming session, had said that it was an unanimous decision.
However, I still stand against the return of foreign soccer and I have made my intentions known through my postings in my blog on numerous occasions. I am not going to repeat myself to say why I am against the return of the foreign players. For those who may not have read my earlier postings, I have attached the link at the bottom of this post.
I have been covering Malaysian soccer since 1979, when it was totally amateur, before it went Semi-Pro in 1989 and fully professional in 1994. I have actually seen the slide of Malaysian soccer and I think I am entitled to my opinion on Malaysian soccer, especially since I am so passionate about it. I have even coached and managed a soccer team from the club level to Division Two in the Pro League in a span of 15 years - a long time, but that is what it takes to reach the top and NOT overnight!
I did not get a whisper to come for this brainstorming session to give my two sen worth. Maybe the organisers only wanted "Yes men" to the proposal to bring back the foreign players.
In anycase, I am not complaining about not being invited asked to give my opinion because it is the prerogative of the organisers to invite whom they thought was the best people for the brainstorming session.
I was involved in one such brain storming session in March 2006 in Kuching and I know exactly how these sessions are conducted. Read my story I wrote in The Malay Mail then.
There are just a few points I would like to point out which baffles me on the reason why the decision was taken to bring the foreign players and they are:

*"Much has been said about whether we should allow foreign players back and it cannot be denied that the imports raise the level of the league when they play"
So what happens to our national team? Does the standard also raise?

* "The need to bring back foreign players is to arrest the decline in fan appeal in domestic competitions"
So how is it that teams like Selangor, Kelantan and Negri Sembilan can still draw the crowd without foreign players?

* "But we have to bear in mind that teams must be ready financially for imports to return and it is for this reason we have decided that foreign players will be allowed three to a team from 2012"
If they were not financially ready all these years, what guarantee is that they will be in a season
*"Those unable to give their assurance cannot take in foreign players"
So the rich teams will strengthen and arm themselves with foreign players, while the poor teams will become whipping boys of the League. So how does this help raise the standard of the League?

*Foreign players can only be sourced from countries ranked higher than Malaysia in the FIFA world rankings as at  Aug 1, 2011
Malaysia is currently ranked 144 out of 200. How far high up can Malaysia go up by Aug 1 next year? Let us take a generous assumption that they reach 120! Is players from countries from teams ranked above 120 going to help Malaysian soccer? Maybe if it was said that foreign players must come from countries who are ranked among the top 50, it makes sense.

Notably missing from the comments after the brainstorming session was about the national team and players for the national team.
So is the Malaysian Super League all about domestic soccer?
What will happen to the national team who will suffer a dearth of strikers, central midfielders and defenders - the backbone of the team - when most teams hire foreign players for these position and leave the local players on the bench.
With each team taking three players, if ten teams hire foreign players - 30 locals players will have to warm the bench!
The decision of the competitions committee to bring back the foreign players will only be final after being approved by the executive committee which meets on Monday.
Can we expect the decision to be overturned in the genuine interest of Malaysian soccer and local players? Most unlikely!
I have a suggestion: Since there are reservations about financial implications in bringing back the foreign players and also to be fair to all teams and not be selfish and think of the rich teams only, why not just restrict to ONE foreign player!
This way financial burden will be under control, all teams will have a fair chance to compete on a level playing field, a majority of the local players will still be playing in the League, the national team will still be able to get some quality players from the League and above all, teams will be very thorough in selecting the player their hire, because they cannot afford to comprise on quality and would want to hire the best available player. This way, there is a chance to see some improvement in the league, instead of seeing every John, Kamara and Fendi plying the Malaysian League.
Food for thought? Again most unlikely not, because the brainstorming session have come up with a decision which will chart Malaysian soccer upwards and there are influential people!
Good luck to Malaysian soccer!

Previous stories written on foreign players:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Foreign players for M-League up in the air, yet again!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 

Foreign players issue up in the air again!

Sunday, April 4, 2010 - Foreign players will improve Malaysian soccer?


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