Boot out the ego in football

APRIL 23 — All eyes will be on the FA of Malaysia (FAM) congress on May 25 as we will witness a three-cornered fight between Sultan Ahmad Shah, his son Tengku Abdullah and Tunku Ismail Ibrahim for the top seat.

However, observers continue to question if these three candidates are ideal to lead the national body as Malaysian football has remained stagnant, if not in poor state, over the years.

Some say the three-way race is just a “drama”, to show there is finally a contest for the hot seat.

Those who have been following FAM long enough know of a succession plan that has been around for years — that Tengku Abdullah is to take over his father’s post. 

Sultan Ahmad has been FAM president since 1984 while Tengku Abdullah is also the president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation.

Tunku Ismail, who is the crown prince of Johor, is hailed by Johor fans as the saviour for the Southern Tigers since helming Johor FA two years ago. It is a fact that Johor football is enjoying a renaissance of sorts with plenty of funds and a proper set-up compared to the past.

While Sultan Ahmad has every right to battle it out saying “may the best man win” and Tengku Abdullah seeing this as a perfect opportunity to finally take over, questions now arise over Tunku Ismail’s “eligibility”.

Let us be reminded over the tunnel bust-up at the Larkin Stadium in the FA Cup clash between Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) and T-Team in February. Four police reports were lodged by T-Team players and officials at the Kuala Terengganu police headquarters after the club’s Brazilian import Evaldo Rodrigues and fitness coach Stefano Impagliazzo alleged they were assaulted by JDT officials including Tunku Ismail.

While FAM fined JDT RM30,000 over “inadequate security”, the disciplinary committee has not made any decision against the individuals involved.

Committee chairman Datuk Taufek Abdul Razak was widely quoted as saying: “I was told the police have completed their investigation and a report has been submitted to the Attorney-General’s office.

“If (the) Attorney-General’s office does not pursue the case, then we have the right to continue the investigation and take action. We wouldn’t close the case and we will have two years to act on it,” he added.

While the notion that a man is innocent until proven otherwise must be upheld, many ponder if FAM would mete out any punishment should Tunku Ismail be made president and later implicated in the episode.

All eyes will be on the FA of Malaysia (FAM) congress on May 25, 2014 that will elect a new president. — Reuters pic
All eyes will be on the FA of Malaysia (FAM) congress on May 25, 2014 that will elect a new president. — Reuters pic

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I raised this during Astro Arena’s Kafe Sukan on Monday and maintained Tengku Abdullah will succeed as president. I could be wrong.

But FAM is beyond the president and those eyeing for posts within the main structure. It is about getting the right people to work the engine room.

Just like in any organisation, it needs forward-minded people all around to make sure the objectives are met. In FAM’s case, it is about improving Malaysian football at all levels.

It is easy to criticise without understanding the mechanics or the problems faced within the four walls of an organisation. And most often than not, many tend to only speak but do little to get their hands dirty to better understand what Malaysian football really needs.

The office bearers should also appreciate the many efforts to improve the sport —from academies that continue to mushroom nationwide to the Youth and Sports Ministry’s National Football Development Programme. Such initiatives should be seen as complementing efforts to unearth more talents instead of a threat.

There are calls to rid the old timers from FAM, stressing the national association needs to be rejuvenated with youth. Age is of no value for those wanting to sit in FAM, aged 16 or 61, as they need to think ahead. They need people who would walk the talk.

Do not come up with campaigns for the sake of it. FAM announced an integrity committee comprising various enforcement agencies including police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in 2012. Yet, elements of match-fixing continue to linger.

A “Love Football, Stop Hooliganism” campaign was initiated two months ago but it did little to stop fans from causing havoc as evident during the Perak-JDT Super League match in Ipoh on April 15.

It is all about facilitating instead of frustrating the cause.

To those eager for a spot in FAM, it is not all about you. It is about Malaysian football.

Every one in the ecosystem — players, parents, coaches and even the fans – play a part in making sure football reaches greater heights.

Put your ego aside and make the development and progress of football your utmost priority. That is the recipe for success.

This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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