The water cannons being used to disperse the crowd outside the Perak Stadium after Perak’s Super League match against Johor Darul Ta’zim on April 15, 2014.
IT was only two months ago that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) launched their “Love Football, Stop Hooliganism” campaign aimed at stemming the spread of football violence.
But, has it?
The rising threat of fan violence in the M-League has become so critical that even the police have been put on red alert for “high risk” matches.
Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order director Datuk Seri Salleh Mat Rasid, who is also the FAM security committee chairman, had raised concern over the lack of security at competition venues due to the ugly side of football fans.
It is worrying indeed to see the beautiful game being marred by a certain group of so-called fans.
The latest incident happened during Perak’s Super League match against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in Ipoh on Tuesday.
The ugly side of the game reared its head and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) resorted to firing water cannons and tear gas to disperse the fans after the game, which JDT won 1-0.
Even the pressmen and police were not spared. Two photographers and two policemen were reported to have been injured in the commotion.
What is wrong with these hooligans? When are they going to learn that their actions could lead to some serious injuries, if not death even?
Don’t they know that there are women and children in the stadium watching the beautiful game?
It’s also puzzling how prohibited items – flares, fire-crackers and smoke bombs, to name a few – are smuggled into the stadiums despite repeated warnings and the tight security.
But the signs have been there right from the start.
Would you believe that four of the six opening matches of the 2014 season – on Jan 18 – were marred by security problems?
What is going on, FAM?
Are those entrusted with doing their jobs slackening? How else can these prohibited items be sneaked into the venues?
It looks like this dreaded disease, yes that’s what it is, has even spread to Malaysia’s international matches. And to think that we used to associate such disgraceful behaviour with the yobs who ruined the game in the English league years ago.
Last month, the referee had to stop a friendly between Malaysia and the Philippines at the Selayang Stadium for eight minutes when the 1,000-odd fans threw smoke bombs onto the tracks before unfurling a banner criticising FAM.
Where was the security? Where were the police?
It is a shame that we have had to categorise our football stadiums as “high risk” venues.
Are we really in the same category as Jakarta’s Bung Karno Stadium, which was once deemed a “high risk” venue by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)?
Have we forgotten what happened in 2011 when newspapers carried the headline: “Two dead in Indonesia SEA Games football stampede”?
Do we need to see such bloody – and fatal – scenes in our football matches?
The FAM have got to do more than just ushering the “anti-hooliganism” flags into stadiums before kick-off. It serves no purpose.
What needs to be done is tighten security and have proper checks at all entry points. Invest in some high-quality CCTVs if you have to. Lest we see our stadiums turned into a war zone.
So, please FAM, do something!
Let the beautiful game thrive. Not the fan violence.