Friday, February 7, 2014

Sports is sacred, don’t blemish

Friday, February 07, 2014 - The Malay Mail

IT is hardly two months into the new year and already the ugly side of a number of Malaysian sports has come into play.
Sports is beautiful and supposed to bring joy, not heartache and disappointments.
But in this country, it is being dragged through the mud, much to the detriment of its development. Millions of ringgit are being channelled into sports yearly, but where are the returns?
Various incidents in the Mleague have given Malaysian sports a bad name: referees blasted by officials and players; officials allegedly assaulted off field; and buses and cars attacked by fans, to name but a few. This is not to mention the poor playing conditions.
And to make matters worse, Kuala Lumpur FA officials have been implicated in match-fixing.
How this episode is going to end is anyone’s guess because there is scant information.
Then we have KLFA president Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz saying his association should not be held responsible for the fiasco, including the engagement of the team sponsor which is implicated in the alleged bribery.
But what takes the cake is Astaman’s statement that the present structure, in which state FAs have to source for their own funding to sustain professional teams, is unworkable.
Surely, he knows professional football does not work on handouts or charity? Maybe it is time KLFA was helmed by someone who knows what professional football is.
Then we had the FA of Malaysia (FAM) keeping everyone guessing on who would be appointed the new national coach, only to announce Ong Kim Swee will take charge of every other national team in the Malaysian football setup.
FAM is courting trouble with its delayed actions and making decisions that don’t make any sense. Its indecisiveness does not augur well for long-term planning and the tournaments ahead.
Earlier, there was controversy over a noble project – the National Development Football Programme. FAM stayed out of it initially. Things have been worked out now, but the project has yet to get off the ground in full scale with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and FAM working together.
Then, there is the badminton saga with the resignation of officials and players. The sport itself has been marred by the mediocre performance of the players, save Lee Chong Wei, who has announced he will be retiring this year.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia has yet to reveal how it is going to address the decline in the standard of the game and other problems.
Of course, the sepak takraw drama has been going on for a while now, with even minnows becoming a threat to the national team.
Meanwhile, hockey coach Paul Revington’s sudden resignation after naming the national squad – the second time he tendered his resignation – certainly shocked the fraternity.
Many believe there is more to it than meets the eye, although Revington has claimed that he is resigning because he cannot handle the pressure.
The latest ugly news in Malaysian sports is that the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) faces the prospect of being suspended for the mismanagement of funds allocated by the government for the development of cycling, especially road racing.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said based on the initial audit report submitted by the audit department of the ministry on Jan 29, there are a number of discrepancies in the way the MNCF is managing the funds.
The Sports Commissioner and the ministry’s auditors will conduct a detailed audit of the accounts to present a clearer picture.
As a result of the MNCF affair, Khairy has instructed to immediately tighten the procedures by which public funds are distributed to sports associations via the ministry.
This should make all the sports associations sit up and pay attention.
They can no longer do whatever takes their fancy.
And the taxpayers can rest assured that there will be better accountability.
Some associations have been getting off scot-free in the name of sports and it is about time they learnt they cannot take everyone for a ride.
At the same time, the sports minister should look at the powers of the National Sports Council (NSC), especially in managing and dispersing funds to national bodies.
NSC certainly cannot be taking over the role of national sports associations and it cannot have sole authority over the funds available for the associations.
The national bodies should be given the responsibility to run and manage their associations with NSC acting as the watchdog.
Certainly, many things in Malaysian sports are not right and the faster these are corrected and set on the right path, the brighter the future.

TONY MARIADASS is sports editor of
The Malay Mail. He can be reached at
Twitter handle: @tmariadass

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