KAJANG, Oct 25 — Judging by the remarks of Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, football fans can probably kiss goodbye to their hope of Malaysia bidding to host the Asian Cup 2023 football third round qualifiers.
The Youth and Sports Minister said the government’s priority now was to focus on national economic recovery in the post-Covid-19 pandemic period instead of spending a big sum on hosting the qualifying tournament.
“I think if a tournament can guarantee an influx of fans or bring returns for sports tourism, we can still consider it.
“I would love to do it (qualifying round) but we have to give priority to the people’s economy. I feel the government is focusing on post-pandemic economic recovery,” he said.
Ahmad Faizal said this when commenting on reports that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) was keen to bid to be one of the six centralised venues for the 24 teams playing in the qualifiers in June next year.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement recently that the qualifying round would be played at centralised venues based on the single round-robin format.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Faizal urged athletes to quickly report any sexual harassment cases to the authorities, coaches or their parents.
“Do not keep quiet as these are criminal offences which we should combat together,” he added.
He was commenting on national diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong’s shocking revelation that her former coach was fond of making “dirty jokes” before he was charged with raping a national diver several years ago.
Ahmad Faizal said he was gathering further information from several athletes and planned to contact former Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to get a clearer picture of the controversial issue.
However, he declined to name the athletes he was contacting. — Bernama