Friday, December 12, 2014

Give priority to security

IN the wake of acts of hooliganism by local fans at last Sunday’s AFF Cup semifinal first leg between Malaysia and Vietnam, it is time the FA of Malaysia, all state FAs and clubs appoint security chiefs.

I am not talking about incorporating police officers into their security committee but hiring professional security officers for their respective stadiums.

These officials will be responsible for planning the security and deploying their men to ensure everything is in order. This includes closed-circuit television through which the security manager can monitor the stadium, spot trouble and act swiftly.

This is going to cost money but shouldn’t FAM, the state FAs and clubs spend money on security rather than wait for lives to be lost?

It is no secret some Malaysian fans are turning into the kind of hooligans seen in Europe.

This is a dangerous trend that needs to be nipped in the bud.

It is great the stadiums are filling up again these days, whether it is an international, M-League or Malaysia Cup match. Cheer all you want for the national or local team, but don’t forget your sporting spirit.

For more families today, football matches have become a way to spend time together.

The last thing we want to see is the women and children getting hurt in the stadiums.

It was indeed a sad sight to see Vietnamese women cowering in fear as their male companions were assaulted by some unruly Malaysian fans last Sunday.
I was told by a fan – Nur Fatin Najihah, a final year physiotherapist undergraduate – who, on the way home from the match with her family, saw a Vietnamese man being assaulted while his wife who was holding a baby watched in horror.

Fatin’s father Fadzil immediately got out of their car to stop the assault. He showed the Vietnamese fan that there are Malaysian fans who believe in fair play.

I am writing this column before the return leg clash in Hanoi. I don’t know what will transpire at the My Dinh Stadium, but I hope the Vietnamese fans don’t reciprocate the action of a small group of unruly Malaysians.

It is worth mentioning smoke bombs and flares have become a common sight at matches in Malaysia despite being banned.

FAM and various states have been fined for such incidents. In fact, the national body was only recently fined US$10,000 (RM34,895) by the Asian Football Confederation for poor spectator conduct in a friendly between Malaysia and the Philippines.

This is money that can be better spent on beefing up security at the stadiums to avoid trouble in the first place.

Then, security heads can be held responsible for any breach as was the case in Spain where the government ordered the sacking of the security heads of football clubs Atletico Madrid and Deportivo Coruna.

On Tuesday, Junior Security Minister Francisco Martinez announced the move to a parliamentary commission investigating the incident where fans went on a rampage with metal bars and knives hours before the Nov 30 match. One fan died.

Spain’s Football Federation and government-controlled Higher Sports Council have said tougher sanctions on clubs over violent behaviour by supporters will come into force on Dec 15.

Surely we do not want to wait for a riot before acting. The Selangor police did well in swiftly releasing photographs of the individuals involved in the fracas on Sunday.

Five of those surrendered to the police, had their statements recorded and released.

They will be called to assist the investigation.

Ten others have yet to surrender and been have asked to do so quickly. But I feel the police should be firmer by issuing warrants of arrest.

The police need to show that they are serious about clamping down on hooliganism and take stern action to deter others from following suit in the future.

Above all, we have to clear the bad image that these few unruly fans have painted to our visitors and football fraternity. We need to show that we do not condone violence in sports.

Tony Mariadass is a sports journalist
with more than three decades of
experience and is passionate about
local sports. He can be reached at
Twitter handle: @tmariadass

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