Friday, January 23, 2015

Bleak start to the year

THE year has started badly for Malaysian sports.

The first month of the year has yet to end and already there have been several incidents and controversies. One wonders if it will ever change for the better.

The majority of sports are professional, a great deal of money has been pumped in by the government, sponsorships have grown by leaps and bounds, sports facilities are of international standards and readily available.

So, what’s wrong? If you ask me, the officials are to blame.

While there are some who have done well, the majority are struggling to get their act together.

To recap, the year began with Malaysian Athletic Federation (MAF) vice president Datuk Noorul Ariffin Abdul Majid being shot at by an unidentified man at his home in Bandar Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh.

Two bullets hit him in one of his legs.

It was reported the victim had received a threatening letter about a month ago.

Then we had a controversy in the BA of Malaysia (BAM). Its coaches were unhappy their contracts were extended for only three months.

The reason? BAM was waiting for technical director Morten Frost to start work and make his recommendations.

Whether this matter could have been handled better is anybody’s guess.

Next came the matter at the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), whose top officials did not get its blessing to announce the Malaysia International Marathon (MIM).

Athough the OCM executive board, at a meeting last week, decided to change the name of the run to avoid any conflict with the MAF — which must sanction such international runs — OCM vice-president Rear Admiral (rtd) Datuk Danyal Balagopal is insisting the run can go ahead as MIM.

A tiff among officials at the highest level of office and blatant disregard for rules is not going to help sports. What kind of example are they setting for their affiliates?

Even if the intentions are noble, rules must be adhered to.

Which brings us to our professional footballers who claim ignorance of basic laws regarding contracts.
This, after the game went professional in this country 21 years ago! Some are openly defying the rules and challenging the authorities.

They want a fat pay cheque but don’t want to act professionally.

And here is a new trend in Malaysian sports — the entrance to the FA of Selangor’s (FAS) office was splashed with red and yellow paint, allegedly by a group of disgruntled supporters.

In October last year, fans confronted team officials and players during a training session in Shah Alam and demanded a change in top management after Selangor were booted out of the Malaysia Cup.

It is fine for fans to be passionate, but there are proper channels to voice their complaints instead of acting like hooligans.

As it is, our footballs fans are already setting off flares and throwing smoke bombs during matches, causing the FAs and FAM much embarrassment and money in fines.

There have been Injuries too and attacks on visiting international fans have cast Malaysia football in bad light.

Some senior officials have to be respected for keeping their associations afloat in bad times. Some even loan large sums when the need arises.

The internal squabbles in FAS are not helping the game one bit and a simple plea by fans for season passes has been ignored.

So, why has the FAS rejected an opportunity to secure sure sales? Is there a hidden agenda?

But all is not gloom and doom for Malaysian football as FAM will officially seal a partnership today with media fi rm MP & Silva and stakeholders (state FAs and clubs) under a new set-up — Football Malaysia Ltd Liability Partnership.

This will secure a lucrative sponsorship deal to run the M-League and also benefit FAM and state FAs and clubs.

The international media rights company has promised to raise revenue through broadcast and commercial rights worth RM1.26 billion over 15 years.

This works out to RM84 million a year compared with a deal offered by a consortium of four companies (Telekom Malaysia, Astro, Media Prima and Fox) of RM60 million and by Zenith (a local company who tied up with IMG and had FAM as its equity partner) of about RM75 million.

It has been said 40 per cent of the returns will go to FAM’s coffers, 30 per cent to the clubs and state FAs, 20 per cent to run the league and 10 per cent to the referees and development.

The question is, has FAM or rather the officials who accepted the last-minute deal from MP & Silva understood it and the fine print and weighed all the options?

Also, this deal only takes effect from 2016 unlike the other offers, which start this year.

There are veterans on the committee that okayed the deal, but also some who may have been blinded by the big figures and did not understand its concept but gave their nod for fear of being thought ignorant.

Others may have just wanted to please the top officials.

Note that a committee was set up to study the privatisation of the League, which worked hard on it, including vetting all the bidders.

But their recommendations were shelved and an independent company was given the task to evaluate the League and bids.

For the sake of the game, we hope the right decision has been made and another fiasco does not emerge down the line.

Malaysian sports deserves better and hopefully, all the controversies and black marks will give way to a brighter future.

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: @tmariadass

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you follow Ultras Selangor on Twitter, you would understand their frustration at the ineptitude of Selangor FA in managing their team considering the advancement rival teams are making in terms of generating their own revenue (somethings as simple as the issuance of season ticket).

If their voices are just ignored, what else can they do when they keep seeing their once glorious team plunging into the abyss of obscurity, like Perlis?