For far too long, Malaysia have been in a denial mode on match-fixing despite being the 1994 bribery scandal fiasco in Malaysian soccer and the many other cases which has come up since.More often than not, the authorities sweep it under the carpet, or say that they are investigating the matter or say they do not have any conclusive evidence to pursue the matter.
I too, when I was reporting during my early days in the early 80s never believed that matches were sold, or players, officials or referees were involved. But as time went by, I knew something fishy was happening in soccer matches.
And after the 1994 blow-up of Malaysian soccer bribery, it was confirmed that soccer bribery was very much alive in Malaysia and I started looking at matches, players, officials and referees differently when end results of matches were strange, teams play far from their best or players were a pale shadow on themselves and some blatant ones made errors to concede goals!
However, I believe not enough has been done since 1994 to keep the match fixing menace in check and put fear in our players, officials and referees that anyone found involved in the menace will severely dealt with.I wonder if sufficient monitoring has been done by the FA of Malaysia, State FAs and Police to see if players, officials and referees are still involved.
It is in the grapevine that match fixing as reached the grassroots level – President’s Cup – and there have been cases brought up especially in Negri Sembilan recently.And yet, I think we have not done enough to weed out the problem.
Even when there are clear cases of teams or players involved they are let off the hook and at worst just left out of their present team only to move to another the following season.Even when FIFA Chris Eaton’s revelation was swept under the carpet by FIFa and when FA of Malaysia questioned his finding on match fixing.
And Eaton, a former Interpol officer’s eventual departure from FIFA to take up a job with an anti-corruption agency in Qatar, raised questions why he left. Was FIFA too embarrassed by the findings and wanted to sweep it under the carpet?
We here in Malaysia always point the finger to Singapore when it comes to soccer bribery.
And last week’s the revelation by European police that the integrity of football was at stake, as they revealed they had smashed a criminal network fixing hundreds of matches, including in the Champions League and World Cup qualifiers where a five-country probe had identified 380 suspicious matches targeted by a Singapore-based betting cartel, whose illegal activities stretched to players, referees and officials across the world at all levels of the game, further puts Singapore on the limelight.
But at least Singapore has done more than Malaysia to curb the problem and bring many of the guilty ones to the court of law. They even made betting on soccer matches legal. How much that has helped curb match fixing is a question mark, but at least they are trying.
Malaysia seriously need to keep a close tab on their players and officials and the sooner they get to the bottom of the problem, the sooner the game will gain some reputability.
It is even surfacing that State FAs are beginning to allow sponsors to manage their team and make major decisions in the composition of the team. This is certainly not in line with FA of Malaysia rules, but it is learnt that it is happening because teams find it hard to manage the team because of financial difficulties.
Maybe teams who have financial difficulties should not be competing in the league?FA of Malaysia and the Police certainly needs to make a stronger call on the matter than just forming committees or reacting each time the subject surface. It has to be an ongoing exercise.
It is not an easy task to eradicate match fixing because it is really big, but one has to start someone and keep at time all the time at least trying and keeping the beautiful game of football as clean as possible.