Friday, September 13, 2013

Get rid of the money-makers


Friday, September, 13, 2013: The Malay Mail

SPORTS has become a money-spinning business, which is acceptable if it is done legitimately and benefits the respective sports.
In Malaysia, it’s really sad to hear of officials using their office or links with ‘higher ups’ to influence decisions and in the process make some money for themselves.
It is even sadder when good credentials, quality and experience, or even a better deal, go out the window because the official or person acting on behalf of the candidate or agent is looking for maximum pay out.
I understand why many officials in the football fraternity fought tooth-and-nail to bring foreign players to the M-League this season.
It is reliably learnt that many officials made good money by introducing potential players or agents of players to top officials in the state FAs or clubs.
A European Fifa-accredited players’ agent who was in Malaysia recently confirmed that many officials acted as the go-between to ensure foreign players or coaches were hired.


He also confirmed that an introduction fee was paid and when a contract was successfully signed, another fee was paid.
When asked how much the fee was, he simply smiled and said: “Big money.” And when asked if it was one or two months the salary of foreign players or coaches, he again smiled and said: “Maybe more.”
However, he hastened to add that this was the norm in the football world.
“I am in a foreign land. I need some leads and contacts to make headway and conclude my business. And with football officials always changing in Malaysia, we need to have new contacts all the time.”
Granted, this is the norm in football’s transfer market, but when half-baked players or coaches are recruited so that the middleman can make money from a particular agent, sports is the loser.
This phenomenon does not only exist in football in Malaysia, but in other sport too.
Athletics comes to mind.
There was a time when Malaysia had several coaches from the Eastern bloc who came in at low salaries. But our officials would mark up their salaries and have a ‘personal’ arrangement with the coaches so that they received anything from US$500 (RM1,632) to US$1,000 a month for the duration of the contracts that were for a year or two with an option to renew.
Then, we had officials who would buy new apartments or cars and rent them out to the foreign coaches or players or to the sports associations.
Maybe these were genuine business dealings, but when it involved sports officials, wasn’t that a conflict of interest? Other such deals included buying equipment at higher prices or those that were sub-standard or uncertified, paying more than necessary for office rentals, chartering buses, hotel rooms and F&B when teams travelled, airline tickets for overseas assignments and functions, all with the aim of getting kick backs.
Indeed, this has become a culture in Malaysia, but how can we allow it to happen in sports? We know who the losers are in this scenario.
Can we ever be rid of such manipulation and greed? Very unlikely because it is entrenched in the sports system and as long as there are people out there willing to ‘reward’ others to get what they want, this is going to continue.
It’s time the decision-makers in the sports associations cut out the middlemen and unscrupulous officials in sports dealings and ensure these were above board.
TONY MARIADASS is the sports
editor of The Malay Mail. He can be
reached at

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