Friday, May 13, 1994

FAs making a bad im-press-ion (12/05/1994 - The Malay Mail)

Publication : MM
Date : 12/05/1994
Headline : FAs making a bad im-press-ion

THE media play a key role in the promotion, development and publicity of
any sport event. And soccer, despite its popularity with the masses, has
always been given extensive coverage.
But it's unfortunate that the majority of soccer officials overlook this
At least, this is what one would surmise from the reception meted to
sports reporters in several States.
The FA of Malaysia have cultivated a healthy relationship with the media
and yet the State FAs have acted indifferently.
Time and again, the national body had briefed their affiliates on the
needs of the media but this appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
This season, FAM even told the FAs to appoint a Press liaison officer to
see to the needs of the media. Most have yet to fulfil this obligation.
In places like England, the media are a pampered lot. Receptions are
held for reporters before and after matches. Drinks are even served during
a match.
The Press room, too, is fully equipped with telephone and fax
Most stadia in Europe even have closed circuit television in the Press
room, hence instant replays of goals and other highlights are immediately
None of these exist in Malaysia. To say that we are in the professional
era is a fallacy.
Reporters can consider themselves lucky if they could get hold of the
team list for a match.
In some stadiums, there is no even a Press room at all and where a chair is a
luxury. Can you blame the media if they were found sitting on the running
Even then, the window panes of Press rooms are dirty.
Recently, a State FA official - when requested for the team list - said
it was not their duty to provide one.
This official, ironically a liaison officer, produced an FAM circular
which mentioned that the reserve referee was responsible for the team
What the circular meant was the reserve referee was responsible for
compiling the starting 11 from the two teams playing.
It is not his job to distribute the team list to the media.
After this explanation, this official took the trouble to get an extra
copy of the team list for this writer.
However, the other reporters were not given the list and had to copy the
players' names from me.
We are not asking for the world. We don't need drinks or receptions.
All we want is a proper place to work and with the necessary details
The FA of Selangor have even taken the liberty to decide who should
cover the matches.
Several reporters had their passes issued by the Sportswriters
Association of Malaysia, which are recognised by the FA of Malaysia,
confiscated because the State FA gateman felt that another writer from the
same press had gained entry earlier.
The passes were later returned after several senior writers approached
the FAS to express their dissatisfaction.
The official's argument was that there were too many Pressmen for every
Our argument is who are the FAS to decide who and how many should cover
a match.
After all, the media use the Press box provided at Merdeka Stadium and
even if there were too many reporters for a particular match, they are the
ones who are inconvenienced by its limitations in space.
Even then, we find fans who encroach into the Press area to deny us the
opportunity to get a seat or work in peace.
Maybe they should think of expanding the Press room and providing
assistance in keeping away the paying fans from occupying it instead of
denying us entry.
But the State FAs have a ready-made excuse - the stadia do not belong to
If only some concerted efforts were made, things would definitely have
been better.
Malaysian sportswriters were not the only ones mistreated. One
Singaporean writer, who had all relevant accreditation, had to wait for
an hour before he was allowed to enter the stadium.
The bottomline is that no matter how many reporters turn up to cover a
match, they do not take up the place of paying fans. These reporters are
in the Press room which is meant for them.
This is a clear case of officials who have got too big for the game.
Then we have officials who will have the world's best smiles for us or
find time for us, so as long as we write about them and the association in
a positive light.
The moment, we take a "dig" at them for their unprofessional attitude or
approach, or point out their blunders, we become their Number One public
enemy overnight.
Some players are no different.
Try criticising them in the papers and the next day, they will give the
reporter concerned the cold shoulder treatment. Or if the player is
hypersensitive, as in the case of an ex-national goalkeeper, he will wait
for you with a block of ice in hand after training!
And these are the people who are supposed to be professionals.
Probably, these officials and players should take former national coach
Frank Lord's advice when he told his players who had complained to him
that the Press were giving them a hard time.
Lord had said then: "If you cannot stomach what is written about you in
the papers, then do not read it. If you must read the papers, then taken
whatever is written with a pinch of salt or use it as reason to prove the
wrong by doing the right things."
It is hoped that those concerned should take note of this article in the
right spirit and work immediately towards improving the prevailing
conditions in the interest of the game and as professionals.