PETALING JAYA: State football associations are doing their utmost to combat racism but it is one tough battle especially when the antagonists are fanatical fans.
Racial abuse cases are now rampant following complaints by several players, especially foreigners, after they were subjected to derogatory remarks and taunts by fans, and even officials in the Malaysian football league.
The Perak Stadium in Ipoh and the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka have been described as hotbeds for racist chants during matches.
Melaka Football Association (MFA) secretary-general Farhan Ibrahim said racism is a thing that they won’t tolerate at all, especially in their own backyard.
“In modern football, we always take precautions about this issue. Abusive comments and harsh and vulgar words by the fans are something that is beyond our control, but we are trying to minimise it because that is part of the football atmosphere,” he said.
“It will take some time to discipline our fans, but it can be achieved. For example, years ago, some fans would light up flares and throw firecrackers and bottles on the pitch.
“We took some appropriate action and after having some discussions with the fans the illegal actions decreased week after week.”
Farhan said the association have plenty of ways to tone down racial abuse in the stands, and one of them is through social media.
“We are going to use our official page to educate our fans to be more respectful towards our players or opponents. In the meantime, we will emphasise on a campaign regarding racism in football.”
Perak Football Association (PAFA) secretary-general Tajul Hasnan Omar has interacted with the fans many times on the matter but he said it is beyond his control when they spew vile statements on opponents.
“After games, I will speak to them and hear them out. I have told them that if this continues, we will get sanctions but emotions are something that we cannot contain. I have also spoken to fans via WhatsApp and Facebook.
“Constant communication with the fans is always there. We are aware that racism is a no-no in any sport.
“Not everyone is racist. Only a small portion of the fans can be really fanatical about the game, and when things don’t go their team’s way, they will go all out to frazzle their opponents.
“Let me be clear, PAFA do not condone this at all. We will be putting up banners and also put messages on scoreboards and A-board. The association want fans to know that using racial slurs is not a joke but a serious matter.”
Football Association of Selangor (FAS) secretary-general Dr Johan Kamal Hamidon said they are working on introducing an awareness campaign on racism.
“FAS are considering an awareness campaign on racism. We are hoping for FAM and MFL to take the lead and we will be more than happy to support their initiatives. Racism shouldn’t take place in football and should be kicked out.
“I believe most supporters are not racist but just not sensitive enough to actions and words that actually represent racism. Educating the masses on what words and actions are deemed racist would definitely reduce the amount of racial remarks being thrown around.
“Authorities should also work closely and empower supporters to kick out racism. It is always most effective when fans advise other fans on what racism is about,” he said.