Friday, November 27, 2015

Damned if you do, damned if you don't


Level Field

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have come under severe criticism for several decisions of late and while they have themselves to blame for some of them, many were consensual and in line with moving forward.
Many of the decisions were driven by the wishes, needs and agreement of the state FAs, fans, the National Sports Council (NSC), media rights partner MP & Silva and the Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP).
Heading the list of decisions made at the FAM executive committee meeting on Tuesday night, which received mixed reaction, was to end Singapore’s four-year stint in the Malaysian Super League.
In 1994, Singapore had parted ways with Malaysian football after winning the Malaysian League and Cup double.
After the recent decision, the Singapore newspapers went to town with headlines like: “Lions XII kicked out of Malaysian football”; “Singapore team booted out of Malaysia League”; and “Singapore unceremoniously ditched” , which were not very complimentary to FAM.
It was not an easy decision because it had politically implications and endangered our longstanding relationship with the FA of Singapore, but FAM had to do it, following pressure from fans who complained of the high cost of travelling to watch matches in the Republic, problems with entering the island as the immigration hassled them and above all, only giving limited tickets to Malaysian fans.
The broadcasting rights were another issue as MP & Silva had agreements in place that had to be fulfilled. After all, the agency had pledged RM1.26 billion to the 15-year partnership.
FAS were not willing to budge on these issues, making it difficult for FAM.
FMLLP, created for the privatisation of the Malaysian football league system next year, also had terms and conditions to be met.
The call for Singapore to field their senior team so that it was a level playing field for all teams also did not meet with favourable response.
Teams competing in the M-League were not happy with claims by Singapore that they could do well in the M-League even with their development team.
The state FAs wanted the best team from Singapore so that such talk could be dispelled.
There have been discussions with FAS to resolve these issues but in the end, FAM had to decide to leave Singapore out.
As much as Singapore’s presence adds glamour and excitement to the League, our neighbour benefit a great deal more than Malaysia from their participation.
The decision to disband the Young Tigers team, which has drawn flak as well, was also discussed with the state FAs and the requirement for licensing for all teams; one of the conditions for attaining the licence was that the teams had to be Under-18 and Under-15.
The return of the Young Tigers will strengthen the state youth teams and give them a steady base to start with.
But this decision could be reserved as the NSC, who are assisting in funding youth football development and have increased the funds to RM3 million a year, are demanding that in view of the 2017 Sea Games hosted by Malaysia, a project team has to be in place.
A decision is expected to be made soon and it is of utmost importance so as not to keep the M-League in limbo next year.
While there is a possibility of a team continuing to play in the League, the project team can be kept for training from time to time and also to attend overseas attachments.
Urgency and timing are what FAM have to address at once.
FAM have also been criticised for the change in the dates of the exco meeting last Tuesday, which not only clashed with the Malaysia Cup quarterfinals but also was informed late. The secretariat need to be hauled up for sitting on the matter and not prioritising their agenda.
They also need to decide if their plate is full, thus causing delays and embarrassing moments.
For instance, one of the reasons for the delay in the technical and task force committee in making decisions on the national and Under-23 coach is the late submission of applications.
About 70 coaches had applied for the job and all the applications were addressed to the secretariat. The secretariat, for reasons best known to them, delayed submitting the documents to the relevant committees to be vetted.
Maybe, all matters pertaining to technical or coaching matters should be directed to the relevant committees with a copy addressed to the secretariat for their knowledge to ensure efficiency and speedy action.
Indeed, the secretariat need to buck up to avoid further embarrassing FAM.
All said, FAM, as much as they have been hit by criticism, are trying their best to move forward in the best interests of the sport.
Those officials who are doing what they can to sort out things at FAM must be given a chance to do their work. Meanwhile, the hangers-on who have served their time have to move out for the sake of the game. They cannot be allowed to continue to give FAM a bad name.

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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