KUALA LUMPUR: Some eight million Malaysians are glued to their television sets whenever football matches are aired, says Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (pic).
"Football is the most watched sporting event on television.
"Between six and eight million Malaysians, which is almost one-third the population, tune in to watch matches when they are aired.
"These numbers do not include those who watch delayed matches or live streaming," he said when replying to a question by Nik Mohamad Nik Abdul Aziz (PAS-Bachok) in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Nov 11).
Reezal added that the local football league has huge commercial potential with several state teams having large fan bases.
"For example, Selangor has about 290,000 fans, Kelantan 400,000 fans, Kedah 640,000 and Johor's JDT has the highest with over two million fans.
"This shows that they have a huge captive market," he said.
Reezal said that this was one of the reasons why the local football league was privatised through the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysia Football League in 2015.
He added that privatisation of the leagues had led to the separation in administration of sports from the respective football associations to the football clubs aimed at increasing competitiveness and professionalism.
He said this was necessary to allow football clubs to participate in the nation's Super League and Premier League next year, which in turn, would allow the clubs to compete in the Asian Football Confederation championships if they qualify.
On the impact of Covid-19, Reezal said that it had led to the suspension of the last remaining seven games in the Malaysia Cup.
"As the Youth and Sports Minister, it is my hope that these matches can be played in green states that are not currently under Covid-19 lockdown," he said.
He said his ministry will continue to appeal to the National Security Council to allow matches to be played in the green states once the number of Covid-19 cases drops.
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