Say What

Published: Sunday December 22, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Updated: Sunday December 22, 2013 MYT 2:04:22 PM

The beautiful game shows its ugly side… again!

Ex-Kuala Lumpur coach Chow Kwai Lum (right) walking out of a Singapore court after he was found guilty of attempted match-fixing in 2007. The scourge is still rife in the local game despite measures to curb its spread- Filepic

Ex-Kuala Lumpur coach Chow Kwai Lum (right) walking out of a Singapore court after he was found guilty of attempted match-fixing in 2007. The scourge is still rife in the local game despite measures to curb its spread- Filepic

FOOTBALL stole the spotlight from the ongoing SEA Games in Myanmar on Friday (for the wrong reasons) when the disciplinary committee imposed life bans on five players and three team officials from the Kuala Lumpur Premier League squad for match fixing this season.

The eight, including the Slovak coach, assistant manager and the kitman, were also fined RM20,000 each.

Good job for cracking the whip on the wrong-doers.

But let’s not stop there.

Call the Police. Get the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) into the act. Let them probe into this disease and go after the big fishes out there – the bookies, the runners and the masterminds.

How many times have we have heard of managers, coaches, players, team officials, referees, former players and match officials being punished for match-fixing? But the real culprits always get away scot-free. Now, why is that?

Let’s put them out of business, too. At least wipe them out from our shores.

Match-fixing, or bribery, or what ever you want to call it, is like cancer. It spreads fast and it spreads stealthily. And this disease is already affecting the younger players, including those in the President’s Cup (Under-21) teams.

It is time, FAM act tough and get the authorities concerned to keep track of those punished but do not seem to have repented.

The problem is, although they are suspended from playing the game, is that they are still free to be involved in other illegal activities (like being runners, etc). Who keeps tabs on them?

How many times have we seen and heard of players punished for match-fixing returning to continue doing the dirty deeds?

Now, we have these eight from the KL team. Even the kitman was involved. Can you believe it?

Will this latest incident hinder all those big plans drawn up for the future?

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is serious in his bid to elevate the standard of local football by creating a bigger pool of quality players at the grassroots level with the introduction of the National Football Development Plan (NFDP) in 2014.

Under this programme, more than 50,000 players will be trained by 2020. It is collaboration between the Youth and Sports Ministry and the National Sports Council (NSC) as they seek to assemble a formidable national team for the future. It is a pilot project aimed at kids aged seven to 17.

But what’s the point of spending millions on the NFDP when Malaysian football is in a sorry state of affairs – two decades after turning professional, at that?

The NFDP, under the guidance of former Bayern Munich youth coach Lim Teong Kim, will get nowhere if nothing is done to eradicate this malaise, which is rampant in the local game.

All the hard work at the grassroots level will go to waste because once these boys move up, they will come under the wings of the national body.

Won’t these boys be exposed to the danger of match-fixing if we don’t check the rot, now?

Last year, 18 President’s Cup boys (Under-21 players) from various teams were picked up for illegal football activities. The FAM banned them for two to five years while a former Negri Sembilan coach was given a life ban.

Have we not learnt from the 1994 crackdown on match-fixing, when more than 100 players and officials were suspended and banned from football?

Come on, FAM. Do something more drastic. And if you can’t, at least try reduce the damage.

Why do we need so many teams – 24 (12 each in the Super and Premier Leagues)? The more teams you have, the more trouble you are courting.

The FAM are unable to monitor all these teams. So, why have so many teams?

Let’s not describe the mass participation of teams as development. What development have we seen in the last 20 years?

Our best achievements have been either SEA Games champions or winners of the AFF Suzuki Cup. What’s so great about that?

Reduce the number of teams – go for quality rather than quantity – and monitor them closely.

Make it compulsory for all teams to engage full-time security officers. 

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