Friday, November 29, 2013

A rock and a hard place

Friday, November 29, 2013 - The Malay Mail


THE FA of Malaysia have put themselves in an awkward position in relation to the appointment of deputy president Tan Sri Annuar Musa (pic) to the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) simply because they did not strictly enforce their ban on him.

Annuar was suspended in April last year for violating FAM's Article 88 (for speaking to the media on policy matters without consent) and his ban only expires next October.
The suspension bars the former sports minister from involvement in any football-related activities sanctioned by FAM.
However, the Kelantan FA president has been going about his business as usual with the state football team, holding press conferences, attending team functions and giving press statements, without being hauled up by FAM for violating his ban.
Matters came to a head when Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin invited Annuar to join the NFDP as a committee member — the committee tasked at ensuring Malaysia qualified for the Under-20 World Cup in 2019. Things got worse when Annuar attended the revamped committee’s meeting on Tuesday.
FAM representatives did not attend the meeting, claiming that they had to attend an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) meeting at the same time. However, they also said they had sought clarification from AFC on the appointment of Annuar to the NFDP.
Annuar was magnanimous, saying after attending the NFDP meeting that he would resign from the committee if the governing bodies Fifa and AFC ruled that he couldn't be actively involved in the programme.
He also said the national body needed to be involved in the NFDP for the betterment of football. He offered to step down if that was the only way FAM could join the committee.
The National Sports Council (NSC), which is the secretariat for the NFDP, defended the appointment, claiming that it was valid because Annuar was sanctioned by FAM statutes, not the Sports Development Act (SDA) 1997 and that the sports minister had the authority to appoint anyone as a member of any committee under the SDA.
The NSC also claimed that the ministry had received the nod from the sports commissioner's office last weekend.
However, it is learnt that the sports commissioner's office has said 'it was a grey area' when the matter was brought to their attention.
Fifa responded to a Mailsport query on Annuar’s suspension by saying they would not get involved. So now, it comes down to AFC’s response and FAM’s final stand.
"The matter seems to be of internal nature, which shall be dealt with in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Malaysian FA. Therefore, we are in no position to comment," was the reply from Fifa media relations officer Sascha Rhyner.
It is learnt that AFC have verbally responded to FAM on Annuar’s ban and FAM are now awaiting an official letter before making a press statement.
Whatever AFC’s reply, the national body are caught in a difficult situation.
To start with, FAM are shying away from making a firm decision because they had allowed Annuar to continue to be involved in Kelantan's football activities. Maybe, they were just glad that he stayed out at national level, so they chose to ignore what he was doing in Kelantan.
But now that Annuar has been brought back to national-level activities with the NFDP, FAM have to take a stand.
All indications are that AFC are going to tell FAM the same thing that Fifa did and ask FAM to act in accordance with their rules and regulations.
This will leave FAM with no choice but to make a decision on Annuar.
If FAM choose to ignore his appointment to the NFDP, then they cannot sit on the committee with him.
Whether Annuar steps down on his own accord or FAM enforces the ban remains to be seen.
FAM could complain to Fifa about the ministry appointing people they had banned, which will boil down to government interference which Fifa do not take lightly.
But FAM are very unlikely to do so. They would not want to tangle with the government from whom they get their funding Sour relations with the sports ministry would only mean more trouble for the game.
But for FAM to ignore NFDP meetings would be odd because it is a football development programme and without the involvement of the national body, the programme would face complications.
So, how will FAM resolve the matter? Whatever decision they make will work against their favour.
FAM cannot blame anyone for the current situation but themselves. They should have strictly enforced the ban on Annuar in the first place.
To witness such a wrangle when it involves the development and future of Malaysian football certainly is a shame and does not augur well for the game.
What kind of example are we setting for the young who are taught to abide by the rules and play fairly for the love of the beautiful game?
Maybe the sports minister, FAM and, maybe even, Annuar should sit down to resolve the matter once and for the good of the game in the country.
Otherwise, FAM have to make a firm decision and face the consequences.
TONY MARIADASS is sports editor of
The Malay Mail. He can be reached at

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