Power of people overpowers greed and racial discrimination in sports


IN Europe, the Super League lasted for all of 48 hours. In Malaysia, the rage over a school’s racial sports policy was stopped within two days.

It has been a week of super flops for those with huge egos but also huge victories for the common folk.



A plan to introduce a 12-team European Super League, which would cripple the national league of several countries like England and Spain, was announced on Sunday but the big decision makers had not expected the reactions from the small man.

Fans, players, smaller teams were appalled, and came together in a vehement voice to oppose the move.

The change would have benefitted the big teams but it would have damaged smaller clubs, but do the rich clubs care?

They claimed it was a move to change the landscape of European football to keep the interest in the game alive. But to most, it just seemed like a greedy bunch trying to make even more millions than they already have.

After relentless pressure not only in Europe but all parts of the world, finally one by one dropped out.

The Super League is now just a reminder of how close European football came to a huge collapse.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the scrapping of the Super League and commented: “I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake.”

Manchester United said they had ‘listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders’ in making their decision to not take part and Arsenal apologised in an open letter to fans.

Closer to home, a head master had to apologise for another boo-boo in sport, this time a race-tinged one.

In Johor, the SK Dato Bentara Luar had listed sports according to the race of their students.

Netball was only for Malay females, football and sepaktakraw for Malay male students, while basketball and table tennis were open to Chinese students of either gender.

Only those staying in hostels could participate in hockey (I still can’t comprehend the logic behind this. Does that mean people who stay in dormitories can hold the hockey stick better?) although other sports like handball, chess, petanque, volleyball, bowling and badminton were open to all.

The question is: Why divide when sports have shown on many occasions that it can unite?

In the recently concluded inaugural Netball Super League (NSL), which was shown live on Astro, not only were there colourful characters representing eight teams from different parts of the country, there were literally people of different colours too.

In fact, Pow Mei Foong from Johor Jewels was named the most valuable player while B. Pavitra Devi from Perak Phoenix won the best young player award.

Top scorer An Najwa Azizan of Selangor Angels spoke passionately of how she intended to promote the sport and get as many players to participate no matter whether they were short or tall, from north or south, and no matter what race they belonged to.

Now, that’s a true Malaysian!

While the school’s action was disappointing, it was quite comforting to see so many people come together against racism this time.

While many have turned a blind eye to the racism in Malaysian sports, this time, though, the school was at the receiving end for looking at one’s colour than their credentials.

The Education Ministry reprimanded the school for segregating sports according to race, saying it was not part of the national blueprint; Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican called for sports to be colour blind and even the Tengku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim stepped in and wanted the issue to be avoided in the future to maintain unity and harmony.

Then came the school principal’s apology and the decision was overturned.

All these would not have happened – the scrapping of the Super League and the reversal of the school policy – if everyone had listened to the voice of the people before such decisions.

And the people need to speak up – even one voice can make a difference.

If everyone stand together to fight against racial discrimination, greed and wrong decisions, there are bound to be changes, for the better. I have not lost faith.

* The writer recalls her time at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) when she played netball for the university for four years. The team consisted of Indians, Chinese and Malays and were like a family and even shared meals from a plate. The coach selected players not by the colour of their skins but on how well one played the game.

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