Friday, April 14, 2017

FIX IT ONCE AND FOR ALL






    

WILL match-fixing be completely eradicated?
No — as long as all parties concerned do not cooperate to the fullest to clean up the game.
Match-fixing reared its ugly head again with arrest of three Premier League players, an alleged bookie hauled up and another linked to fixing matches asked by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to surrender to help investigations.
This came after MISC-Mifa coach Jacob Joseph disclosure to a national daily, he suspected several of his players being “dishonest” in losing a Premier League match 7-2 at home to UiTM where Mifa conceded all goals with only 15 minutes left.
Kudos to Jacob for the disclosure and MAAC for acting swiftly and making inroads.
But FA of Malaysia (FAM), state FAs, coaches, managers and team management officials, cannot just rely on MACC or the Police.
As owners and governors of the teams and game, they have to make the first move to eradicate the menace instead of sweeping it under the carpet, pleading they have no evidence, turning a blind or even being in denial mode.
It is refreshing Selangor and Perak FAs have taken the initiative to have MACC conduct anti-corruption seminars for players and officials and even have officers from MACC and Police sit in their monitoring committee.
However, if only more coaches like Jacob raise the alarm each time they suspect something amiss, it will not only keep players in check, but assist authorities.
Match-fixing has plagued Malaysia even way before the 1994 episode when an investigation saw 21 players and coaches sacked, 58 players suspended and 126 players questioned over corruption.
After that:
Negri Sembilan FA lodged a police report over alleged match-fixing activities involving their President’s Cup players in 2011.
There were talks of eight Kedah President’s Cup players caught with RM90,000 the same year. They were apparently sacked by Kedah FA.
Nine Perlis Premier League players admitted having contact with a bookmaker who offered them up to RM100,000 each before they lost 7-2 against MP Muar in 2012.
A Singaporean bookie was charged with fixing President’s Cup matches.
Former T-Team President’s Cup goalkeeper coach was also charged for a similar offence in Kuala Terengganu.
In 2009, FAM were stung by match-fixing bug by playing two friendlies against a fake Zimbabwe national team. Malaysia won both friendlies against what turned out to be a club side instead of the national team, with Fifa later revoking the status of the games.
Other recent cases involve the Negri Sembilan President’s Cup team players ad coach and Kuala Lumpur Premier League team players.
We have even had referees implicated.
It is a clear indication match-fixing is very much in existence and even more alarming at youth level.
Among the questions to be asked: are FAM and the integrity committee doing enough?
FAM issue licences to local and foreign players, coaches and team officials each year and one wonders if proper vetting is done?
Questions need to be asked how players who have been on FAM or MACC radar for alleged fixing have been issued with licenses.
What about the one-season cooling period for foreign players who have played in an Asean country before he can play in Malaysia. Has this been strictly observed?
Coaches and team management must also stop hiring players who come as “package” of three or four players.
A senior coach revealed these players were suspects of match-fixing.
Statements like those below cannot hold water anymore:
“Corruption in football is a criminal offence and is under the jurisdiction of the police and MACC.”
“FAM can only punish the offenders after the court has sentenced them.”
Authorities will have to closely look at betting and get the “real fixers” because only eradicating the “runners” is not going to make much impact. New ones are recruited and “business” will go on as usual.
Authorities will also have to keep tab on former players who have been implicated as many still may have links to syndicates and could be “runners” as they have easy access to players.
FAM president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has to give his personal attention to the “cancer” to ensure it is removed completely.
Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat, who was appointed FAM’s integrity committee chairman last Saturday, has his plate full and needs to act fast and furiously to make a difference.
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at 
tmariadass@gmail.com


Friday, April 7, 2017

SCHOOLS AS SPAWNING GROUNDS









    
NEW FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim wants every state to have development programmes.
He would be doing a great favour not only to football but sports in general, if he gets the Education Ministry involved.
The Education Ministry do their bit for sports, but this is far from adequate.
The government allocates RM52 billion to education, which is one fifth of the annual budget, but funding for school sports is a pittance. Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM)’s annual budget is only about RM6 million. 
MSSM organise 24 sports, catering to the Under-12, Under-15 and Under-18 age groups.
In 2010 when there was a cut in budget, the allocation was a mere RM1.5 million!
In contrast, the Sports Ministry received an allocation of RM1.2 billion in the 2017 Budget. This included RM450 million for hosting the 29th SEA Games and the 9th Para ASEAN Games.
In addition, several sports development programmes will be implemented.
A sum of RM50 million was allocated for the construction of Football Academy Phase II in Gambang, Pahang; RM122 million was allocated for constructing and upgrading sports facilities, including states youth and sports complexes and 1Malaysia Futsal Complex and Community Sports Complex; RM70 million was allocated to continue the Elite Sports Podium Development Programme to prepare our elite athletes for international sports events; and RM54 million was allocated to continue Sportspersons Development Programmes, including Athlete Preparation Programme and Paralympic Athlete Preparation Programme.
If only the same priority were given for grassroots development, Malaysian sports would surely have a bright future.
The issue of disappearing fields and those in atrocious conditions needs to be urgently addressed, together with time allocated for physical education and the lack of qualified teachers for sports.
A quicker remedy would be to engage ex-internationals to help out but they have to be given some remuneration.
The other day I ran into a group of ex-internationals, all members of Malaysian Olympian Association (MOA), who meet every Wednesday to keep in touch.
All of them were looking at on how they can be involved in schools.
“It has to be a policy decision to allow ex-internationals to be involved,” said R. Pathmarajah, a World Cup and Olympic hockey player.
“I was involved with my son’s school indoor hockey team. But it only lasted a few days. No reasons were given. Either the teacher-in-charge felt threatened he may lose the limelight or the school did not welcome parents’ assistance.”
Fellow former Olympian and former national hockey coach Datuk R. Yogeswaran said schools should make use of ex-internationals as they are facing a shortage of qualified coaches.
“MOA have more than 300 members and 40 to 50 per cent will be available to coach in the respective states in schools,” he said.
“Those years many of the us attended teachers’ training and as teachers coached our sports in our schools. But those days no longer exist,” sighed Yogeswaran, who started his career as a teacher after training at the Malayan Teachers College in Penang in 1961. 
Following that, Yogeswaran did a one-year course at the Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute in Cheras.
“Sports and the teaching background were the foundations of my life. It is little wonder I dedicated my life to sports and enjoyed every minute of it,” said the Sungkai-born Yogeswaran who had sport embedded in him in Tapah.
Tapah in the 1950s was a hub for Olympians. The Government English School (presently known as Buyong Aidil Secondary School) was a famous hatchery of sports talent.
Another member of the Wednesday group, 1975 World Cup hockey captain N. Sri Shanmugnathan said: “A concerted effort needs to be made to engage ex-internationals to work closely with the Ministry of Education and schools.”
Sportexcel executive director C. Sivanandan, offered this view: “School teachers played a key role in yesteryears and it was the reason we had a steady supply of athletes coming through the schools.
“But those teachers are a dying breed. We need to look at other ways to put emphasis in school sports and ex-internationals could play the role effectively.”
The group believe Tunku Ismail, with his passion for football, could pave the way for ex-internationals to be actively involved in schools and even with the state FAs and academies.
TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.
He can be reached at
tmariadass@gmail.com