Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In November 2005, the Football Association of Malaysia, with the assistance of FIFA Development Officer Windsor John Paul held a FIFA Com-Unity Seminar in Kuala Lumpur. It was the first time that the corporate sector and the media were allowed to present views on the ills that plagued Malaysian football and various suggestions were offered.

Four years down the line, FAM seem to be on the verge of seeking the assistance of the Government to help overcome the standard of football in the country. Former FAM General Secretary Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, who in 2005 was quoted as saying that Malaysian football was in stone age, (and received a royal rebuke then) has openly stated his case now for foreign players to be brought back into the M-League. Will his views be be given some thought at the Exco meeting, I doubt so.

Malaysia is fortunate that it has the FIFA Development Office situated a stone throw away from Wisma FAM with the likes of Windsor, former FAM Research & Development Officer Jeysing Mutiah and former national skipper Dato M. Chandran manning it. I suggest that Tuanku Sultan invites Windsor for a cup of tea before the Exco meets to get a true picture of what is wrong in Malaysian football. I am no expert, never claimed to be one, but when we have the likes of Windsor, Jeysing and Chandran with tons of experience, need we look any further. After all a shout over the fence will suffice to get the much needed advice.

On another aspect, the meeting between FAM and the Minister of Youth & sports on February 4th is of peculiar interest to me. Will seeking assistance from the government be akin to interference from them, thus running foul of of FIFA statutes?

May I be allowed to quote excerpts of an article presented by Dr. Julio Cesar Maglione (President Olympic Council of Uruguay), The paper, Governmental Influence on NOC’s which was presented at the ANOC meeting in Seoul in 1996.

We should keep in mind the state and governmental politics are conceived and put into practice by societies, which in turn are made up of men and women, all with their own dreams, goals and ambitions, which may or may not coincide.

In each one of our countries, we are all part of the government in a certain way; we are the people who vote and elect our politicians, or we ourselves are elected by the people to govern them ; in most cases, it is the choice of the people themselves – and we may or may not agree with them – which bestows the power to govern their countrymen for a period of 4, 5 or more years.

It often happens that governments forget about their responsibilities like, for example, the development of sports activities and programs for everybody or the introduction of sports and physical education in all schools – something of essential importance for the people and society, because that is where values like the principles of non violence, fair play, solidarity and team work are forged – all of them are values capable of preventing serious social problems later on.

I would like to recall the words of Lord Killanin, who said it was impossible to separate sports and politics, but mandatory that sports be protected from political exploitation.

We have to fight, although we do not always achieve our objectives, because at least we will gain respect for our efforts, and maintain our integrity, unity and independence.

On many occasions, sports leaders are looked down upon or devalued in an attempt to create a negative ambiance against the system. And often, sports executives are accused of a lack of ability and capability; moreover, it is often believed that they manage sums by the millions, when in reality our organizations maintain themselves thanks to a careful and fully transparent administration of resources. Another frequent cause of criticism the long duration of some of our executives in their positions, without taking into account that they are subject to open, public and secret elections held periodically under total respect of universal democratic rules.

My sincere opinion is that often it is not so much a problem of Governments, NOCs, authorities or politics, but rather of persons, ambitions and personal interest.