Friday, March 27, 2015

Giving sports a bad name


Level Field  

What is sports in Malaysia coming to?
Indeed, news from Kuantan that five shots were fired at the home of Pahang skipper Razman Roslan past midnight on Wednesday has put Malaysian sports in a bad light.
The year began with Malaysian Athletic Federation (MAF) vice -resident 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 that Noorul had received a threatening letter about a month ago.
Violence in sports
 usually refers to physical acts committed in contact sports beyond what is normal. These acts of violence can include attempts by a player or coach to injure another player or spectators threatening players or coaches with physical harm or actual harming them.
In the past, we have heard of a football goalkeeper from the north finding a cobra on the driver’s seat of his car after a training session.
Another player in the south was attacked and hit on the leg with bats near the hotel the team was staying before an evening match, forcing him to sit it out. His girlfriend then now wife was with him but was unharmed.
Then, there was a foreign hockey coach who found a bullet in his car and a sports journalist who received a bullet by post.
Internationally, who can forget the murder of Columbian Andrés Escobar Saldar after a 1994 FIFA World Cup match, reportedly as punishment for having scored an own goal that contributed to the team's elimination from the tournament.
In Malaysia, several incidents of players being threatened by unknown persons have gone unreported. And always, public reaction was that betting or match-fixing was involved. But this has never been proved and these incidents remain a mystery.
In the case of Razman, it would be unfair to even suggest that there was betting or match-fixing because he is an exemplary player known for his discipline. The Kajang boy is humble and well liked, although sometimes he speaks his mind.
So, let us leave it to the police to do their investigation, solve the case and free Razman of any accusation.
It is sad that sports in Malaysia has come down so low. What happened to fair play and sportsmanship?
The truth remains that wherever there is betting, there is match-rigging. For this reason, the police, FA of Malaysia (FAM), state FAs and clubs must be alert to what is happening around them and not let down their guard.
The authorities will not admit it but match-fixing is still happening, although probably not as rampantly as in the past.
Although insinuations of match fixing have been bandied around for a long time now, Malaysian football has become synonymous with match fixing since 1994, when 21 players and coaches were sacked, 58 players suspended and 126 players questioned for corruption.
In 2012, FAM suspended 18 President Cup players and banned a former Negeri Sembilan coach for life after they were found guilty of fixing matches.
Last year, five Kuala Lumpur players and three officials were slapped with life bans and 17 others were fined after FAM found them guilty of match-fixing. A few months before that scandal, the Perak FA suspended its entire team for two weeks on suspicion of match-fixing after they lost heavily in several matches.
The Pahang incident may not have anything to do with match-fixing, but it is a timely wake-up call for the authorities to continue their vigilance and not take their eyes off the road.
As for Razman, it is hoped that he puts this episode behind him and returns to the game as soon as possible. He is made of sterner stuff, surely.
Certainly, Pahang FA president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah would not have found the incident amusing. He has been working very hard to build a formidable team, working up from the grassroots, and has achieved considerable success lately. He is definitely not going to let anything derail the progress of his team.

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

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