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Friday March 29, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 2:13:23 PM
by eric samuel, k. rajan, AND shamshul fitri
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PETALING JAYA: The FA of Malaysia's Article 88 has become the subject of public anger, with leaders and The Star readers up in arms over the fact that national football coach Datuk K. Rajagopal has been hauled up over a post-match comment.
Rajagopal had bemoaned the lack of local strikers in the M-League but his statement has been construed as criticism of the national league. He now faces the wrath of the FAM's disciplinary committee.
Local fans and the public have been irked by the FAM decision to haul up the 56-year-old former international under the infamous Article 88, which allows only the FAM president and general secretary to comment on the performance of the national team to the media.
Khairy Jamaluddin, a former FAM deputy president, spoke out against the national body for being “too sensitive” and not providing the people in the system some latitude.
What do we do with article 88?
“It was just an opinion and I think there was no harm in it or (any desire) to undermine the policy,” said Khairy.
“I think the FAM is sending out the wrong message to everyone. Just look at the EPL (English Premier League), how (Manchester United manager Alex) Ferguson and (Arsenal manager Arsene) Wenger express themselves. FAM should give more freedom because the people within are no enemy of the FAM. It is sad that even the national coach is not spared ... to listen to his professional views.
“Well, if I were still in FAM I would not have supported Article 88. In fact, I would have been taken in too,” said Khairy.
Rajagopal, who has been nominated for AFF coach of the year award, is alleged to have made the comment at a post-match press conference after the national team suffered a 4-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in a friendly at the Shah Alam Stadium on March 17.
Other high-profile sports personalities to have been penalised under Article 88 are former national coach B. Sathianathan, FAM deputy president Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Perlis FA president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and the latest, Johor FA president Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said he was concerned by the number of people who have been hauled up under Article 88 since 2009.
“Of course, a law is a law ... and nothing much can be done. But my worry is too many people have been red carded Annuar Musa, Shahidan Kassim ... and we may have no more players, then,” said Shabery.
Historian Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim has also joined the chorus.
“The FAM is being overzealous in punishing individuals and seems to have forgotten its main priority and objective to develop football,” he said.
“Stop acting like the police and return to the main objective of being an administrator who is entrusted with the development of football in the country.”
As for the FAM's intended action against Rajagopal, Dr Khoo said if FAM was not happy with the coach, it (FAM) should not have employed him.
“Instead of punishing him, the FAM should have found a coach who will not criticise it,” said Dr Khoo.
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