Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Talk is rife that the Ministry of Youth & Sports might get a new Minister when the Cabinet reshuffle is done. The candidate is said to be the current Deputy Minister of Health, Datuk Dr. Abdul Latif Ahmad.

So why is it that Dato Ismail Sabri, who assumed the post after the General Elections being replaced, barely a year after being appointed to the position? What wrong did he do? Has this got to do with the spate of adverts taken up by the Sports Ministry on the days leading up to the party elections? Or is he destined for a promotion? Only the incoming Prime Minister can answer that.
But politics is strange and who knows we may well have Ismail for the next remaining years until the next General Elections.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Pragmatism dictates the need to administer a word of caution. Hence the spate of resignations in FAM of late should not surprise many as it was seen coming over the past few months. The Assistant Gen Secretary I was told had wanted to call it quits in January itself but held back hoping that things will change for the better. And as for Rodzali Yakub, his exit may well be celebrated by a few within the building. Though some may say offensive things about him, Rodzali was a tireless worker but paid the price not not adhering to the whims and fancies of a few within the ranks. Anyway enough said about the resignations.

What interests me more is the fact that the FAM saw it deem to throw a team out of the MSL for failing to pay the insurance. I did blog about this some two weeks ago but did not get around updating it with more information. Suffice to say that what needs to be investigated is why has the premium for the insurance increased some 200 per cent over the past year?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Just got wind that a top gun in FAM, not an office bearer, has thrown in his towel.

Seems that he is leaving for greener pastures and though I came to know yesterday about this, I failed to get any confirmation on it. However I just received more information that the it is no longer a rumour and that he has indeed resigned, and no he is not the Gen sec, if that was what some of you were hoping for.

Still, who knows it might not be true. So keep your ears to the ground please, and if you know Wisma FAM, the news will be out soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The financial troubles threatening businesses, governments, the global marketplace and the holdings and treasures of individuals and families are not that dissimilar. Although the jargon of the finance, business and government communities tend to obscure the fact, we all suffer from the same disease: debt.

So much so that our very own National Sports Council has decided to cut down on the funding of sports, as has been reported of late, quoting the Director General. Thus it comes as a surprise that this year the Sports Awards will be held not at a five star, but rather a six star establishment.

From the economics point of view, for the government it's called "investing in our nation's infrastructure to achieve a more viable tomorrow to extend to every working family a chance to achieve the Dream; the hope for a better tomorrow" but in fact it's the same filthy habit, spending money you don't have. In our own personal and household affairs we call it "putting it on the card."

Perhaps the Director General is "reorganizing priorities", and for him it means spending like never before and economic consequences be damned. What a let down.

Or it is held at the eve of a party elections to enable his master to engage the voters into giving him a seat in the Supreme Council?

The NSC Director General is an engaging man with many great likable and admirable qualities., except for the fact that he supports Manchester United who were soundly beaten by Liverpool.

But let's dispense with any illusions, that he will be our savior, the champion of change who will "get Malaysian Sports back on track" he most certainly is not. He could have done it but not by playing to the tune of the Minister.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Alex Ferguson's team had gone 13 matches without even conceding a goal and had been dismissing all-comers with ease across four competitions. And they lost trying to make it 14.

The match was played on March 14. And that was the day of the end of Sir Alex trying to keep a clean slate of 14 matches without conceding a goal.

Xavi Alonso was injured in the pre-match warm up, his jersey number was 14.

The final score was Manchester United 1 Liverpool 4, so 1-4, meaning another 14.
And my vehicle numbers are 14....

Other factors that make the win all the more sweeter is:

No Liverpool player had even scored a goal at Old Trafford for five years and the bulk of the Anfield squad had tasted nothing but bitter defeat.

Liverpool also became the first team ever in the history of the Premier League to beat United twice in a season, after trailing in both fixtures.

Indeed, in the ten years between 1993 and 2003 there were only three penalties awarded at Old Trafford to visiting teams and they all missed.

United led early and got hauled in by their tenacious opponents. This has never happened in any Premier League match at Old Trafford since 1995.


When translated, the headline means Today is mine, tomorrow is yours (You'll get yours)
So basicly what it is meant to say is If you scatter thorns, don't go barefoot.
That aptly describes the insurance situation currently affecting a team in the ongoing M-League. Though the FAM has now seemingly decided to "suspend" the team indefinitely for failure to pay the dues for insurance coverage, there are several unanswered questions, some of which that I intend to address over the next few days after having collected more information. Suffice to say some of the issues that need to be clarified are:
Why are PDRM and Armed Forces exempted from paying premiums when the rules clearly state that teams participating in the Super/Premier Leagues must have a minimum of 15/10 professional players registered? Did Harimau Muda pay for the insurance as did the other teams? What was the actual decision taken at the FAM Competitions Committee Meeting - to suspend MPJB till they pay up or throw them out of the M-League for failure to pay up? Why were the licences issued to teams in the first place if they did not adhere to the regulations governing their participation in the M-League? How is it that some teams were allowed to take their own insurance which cost a mere fraction of what was proposed to them by FAM?

Radix omnium malorum est cupiditas — The love of money is the root of all evil

Monday, March 16, 2009


B Sathianathan was relieved of his duties of Malaysia national team coach last month and talks to Asia Editor John Duerden about his turbulent time in charge of the Tigers…John Duerden

The 50 year-old, after success with the under-23 team, took the job after the 2007 Asian Cup when football in the once proud nation was at a low ebb. As co-hosts, Malaysia lost all three games, scoring one goal and conceding 12. Sathianathan failed to steer his team past the group stage of south-east Asia’s regional tournament (The AFF Cup) in December and was fired in February, not long after UAE won 5-0 in a 2011 Asian Cup qualifier in Kuala Lumpur.

You took the job after the 2007 Asian Cup. What was the mood like among the players and the FA at the time?

When I was offered the head coach position of the National Team I was surprised because I just wanted to concentrate on the under 23 team but I took the challenge knowing it would be a very difficult task ahead. Most of the senior players were reluctant to play for the national team because of the criticism they received after the 2007 Asian Cup. The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) was under fire.

During your time as coach, what were the biggest problems that you identified?

Playing at the South East Asian level and against some teams in Asia, Malaysia is still OK but technically and tactically, we don’t have the players to match the giants of Asia.

What objectives did the FAM give you when they gave you the job?

What did they ask you to do? The FA top brass will always say that they need to move up FIFA’s Ranking. I told them not to expect too much from a team that was a combination of many young players from the Under 23 team and a few experienced players. Also, they wanted the team to make the finals of the AFF cup.

How disappointing was the AFF Cup? What went wrong?

Well I was really disappointed about the way the game went against us when we played Vietnam. Clearly we were the better side and we had a lot of control in that game but the goalkeeper let us down badly. I accept that inexperience will play a part. Then the game against Thailand. I knew Thailand was hard to beat at home and also had rested their best players rest against Laos so they were fresh compared to us - a team that played flat out against Vietnam. After that, I knew we would not qualify to the semi finals as Vietnam would easily beat Laos. I think the bad luck and bad fixtures lets us down.

Many expected you to be fired at that point - why do you think you weren't?

Well let me put it this way, they (FAM) knew the team had improved a lot under me, the players gave their best under me and also our results hadn’t been really bad, Malaysians should know that we have not been champions in any events outside Malaysia for a very very long time. I knew that I was heading in the right direction to improve the standard of Malaysian football slowly but surely.

What happened against the UAE?

Bad preparation is the main reason why we were humilated by UAE. I asked that the team spent a minimum of two weeks preparing. After consulting with the league, management decided that I would only have seven days. That left me with only five days of training before a big match against a UAE team that was fresh from the Gulf Cup. I could not get a game to prepare and also I had to deal with injuries to key players like Shukor Adan (Captain) and also Irwan Fadhili.The fitness of the players was poor. I had them tested independently and only three players passed the test. I knew we would be easily beaten by not only a strong technical side team like UAE but also a team who is very fit and ready for that game.

You then said the infamous phrase ''The M-league is not football" - what did you mean by that and do you still believe that? Do you regret saying it?

I have no regrets at all, because I believe it is true. Many coaches and officials are afraid to speak. Let's face it, if we don’t address the real cause of the performance of the National Team than we will never achieve improvements. The national team is the mirror for standard of the League. Look at the clubs from Japan, Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and China, Their teams are playing in the Asian Champions League and where are our club teams playing? They do not pass the quarter finals stage of the AFC cup. So unless there are clubs who are ambitious enough to challenge in the Champions League than we can’t say that we have the materials to match the big teams in Asia.

Do you think that was why you were fired?

I am not sure. Nobody told me but they say that it was because of the team’s performance against UAE

Can Malaysia ever get back to their former glories? If so, how?

To me everything is possible, but we must change the mindset , change people who don't want change and also be straightforward about the problems we have. The advantage that we have is that Malaysians love football and I believe if we are to reorganize ourselves, put a solid plan in place and build on it in short and long term plans than we can among be the top 10 teams in Asia but organization is the key.

There have been accusations of race affecting national team selection... is this true?

To me, race in the national team was not a problem because I had full responsibility in selecting players for the national team. No officials got involved in the selection. But my problem was that I couldn’t find Indians and Chinese good enough to play at that level apart from Subramaniam, Thirumurugan and Chun Keng hong. The problem is at youth level. I don’t see many non-Malay players at youth level.

Should the next coach be foreign?

Well foreign or local , it doesn’t matter, I think if you bring Guus Hiddink he will fail because the players can’t do what he wants. I think Malaysia must improve the abilities of the players before hiring a good foreign coach. Look at Claude Le Roy and Jorvan Vierra, both succeeded in becoming champions with other team but didn’t come close to winning any tournament with Malaysia.

What would your advice be to the next man?

Be realistic about our chances and keep your fingers crossed

Where does Malaysia rank in SE Asia?

We might be ranked sixth in South East Asia but personally we can beat any team if we have better luck except Thailand who I feel have far better players than any country in South East Asia.

What will you do now?

I have not been terminated officially by FAM and I am still on their payrollbut I would like to try my luck in another country. I believe in my abilities, if you can coach Malaysia than you can handle the pressure of nay team.

Friday, March 13, 2009


If someone is said to be the judge, jury, and executioner, it means they are in charge of every decision made, and they have the power to be rid of whomever they choose.

It seems that someone tried to influence the FAM Disciplinary Board when it met on Tursday to discuss the cases against Selangor FA and Kelantan FA. This person, who is not a member of the DB was questioning the witnesses when rightfully that was the duty of the esteemed members of the DB, unless of course they have no experience since some of them were merely ex FIFA referees and DG of the National Sports Council.

This unethical act did not escape the eyes of the two state FA's and it is learnt that the officials from the state bodies are rather upset that their teams or rather state associations were being made to look like incompetant fools.

But then again the person could merely have been doing his job, but luckily though it was not a case of the blind leading the blind. Were the sentences sufficient to the crime that was committed? Well it all depends on how the charges were framed one could say, and the performance of the prosecutor, who may have blown the case with his over elaborate style of questioning.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My work is done why wait?

I was told that sacked national coach was still gainfully employed by FAM, despite the fact that his services were terminated (via SMS) last month.

Not wanting to believe heresay, I contacted Sathia last night via text messaging (since that is the in thing these days) and was told by Sathia that he still reports for duty as he has not received any official notification of his termination.

Well my next question is how can the search or employment of the next National coach take place when there is a national coach still in FAM? And since Sathia is there, why was there not national team training held since the M-League has taken a break?

And if we are to believe what we read in the papers, some of the articles are reproduced below for the benefit of the readers, then why is Sathia still around some 40 days after he has been terminated, unceremoniously by FAM?

Is there a clause in Sathia's contract, that FAM realised after their haste in sacking Sathia, that might cost them an arm and leg should they get rid of Sathia? If so was the Exco told of this clause?

The other question that keeps coming up, was there a contract in the first place? I was told by a Journalist that FAM could not sack Sathia as there was no contract, so how could they sack someone who was not employed?

This is what appeard in our national news agency Bernana.

PETALING JAYA, Feb 1 (Bernama) -- The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) today decided to terminate the contracts of national head coach B. Sathianathan and national team manager Datuk Soh Chin Aun.FAM deputy president Datuk Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad said the termination of Sathianathan and Chin Aun's contracts was to pave the way for new faces to head the national football team."The FAM executive committee meeting chaired by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah were unanimous in their decision to terminate Sathianathan and Chin Aun's services. Sathianathan will be given a month's notice while Chin Aun's termination takes effect immediately," Redzuan told reporters at Wisma FAM after a three-hour meeting here today.

This is what appeared in AFP.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) also removed team manager Soh Chin Aun, the official Bernama news agency reported. The decision was made during a meeting chaired by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah.

"The meeting... unanimously agreed to end Sathianathan's contract with one month's notice for a number of reasons, while Soh Chin Aun's service will stop immediately," FAM deputy president Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad said. Redzuan declined to state why Sathianathan and Soh were sacked.

This is what appeared in The Star on Feb 22.

Except for the termination of B. Sathianathan and Datuk Soh Chin Aun as national team coach and manager respectively at the FAM executive committee meeting on Feb 1, no one seems to have an idea what is to come next.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.

The heading describes the situation MHF is at the moment. For last Saturday, MHF lost one of its most creative officials, V. Rajamanickan, the KLHA Secretary who quit as the Secretary of the MHF Competitions Committee.
It is learnt that Rajamanickam did not attend the Competitions Committee meeting held on that day and chaired by Dato Rahim, the MHF Vice President. Rahim read out the resignation letter and amongst its contents where charges of the Terms of Reference of the Competition Committee being compromised by some quarters in the MHF set up. Is this the begining of the wall crumbling for there have been many incidents of incompetence on the part of MHF of late.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Read this article that appeared online at NST today. It is a frank assesment of things but I would not agree that KJ should bear the brunt of trying to improve the state of affairs. It is those who have been there for years who should be graceful to throw in their towel and allow others to try their hand.



The accursed 30-year pit where Malaysian football languishes

By : Azmi Anshar

DEWAN RAKYAT, March 5, 2009:

ON THE GLORY night of April 6, 1980, when Malaysian football was throttling thunderously, the national team’s talented left winger Hassan Sani conjured a menacing counter attacking run into the South Korean flank, followed with great intent by striker James Wong, both of Sabahan extract, but they carried their team’s effervescence and all of Malaysia’s hopes.

Hassan, while gliding on the flanks in a pace so furious that it caught the Korean rearguard flatfooted, hung on to the ball long enough to detect the perfect moment to release the ball to the advancing James Wong, and then it was back to Hassan, and when Hassan tapped the ball back to James again, Wong committed in memory the most memorable sidestep in Malaysian football history with the a kind of New Age calmness.
First, James rounded an advancing Korean defender but Wong easily left him for dead. Then he confronted a second defender but Wong shimmied a body movement so fluent that the Korean was fooled into expecting a thunderbolt, thus uselessly committing himself to a full body block. However, James teasingly pulled the ball back when literally everyone, the TV commentator in particular, pleaded violently for him to take a shot. James quickly evaded the Korean centreback now frozen with a horror look on his face, glanced for a split second at the gaping Korean goal as the keeper rushed out and in that continuum of time-space nanoseconds, found the sweetest spot to stab the ball into the Korean net. GOOAAAALL!
And a 2-1 winning lead that endured a feisty but impotent Korean retaliation right until the final whistle, confirming more crucially Malaysia’s qualification, for the second time in the nation’s history, to the Olympics.Now savour that immortal 20-second Hassan Sani-James Wong beautiful game combination that led to that second and most important goal ever scored by Malaysia because it was a historic and definitive moment that hoisted the country to actual world football glory.
Now breathe out and ruminate that moment, for it was also the first nail to the coffin of Malaysian football’s near-terminal existence. Malaysian football is not dead, at least not yet, but it emanates this wraithlike mien.
What happened to Malaysian football after that cathartically celebrated James Wong goal? Was 1980 and the years on jinxed? That James scored a profound goal but an ugly black cat deflected the ball into the net? That the players, managers and associations went into laurel resting, thinking that the steam from the 1980 moment was enough to float them to future victories?
Perhaps the first nail that thumped through some bad mojo came after Malaysia boycotted the Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet’s invasive misadventure into Afghanistan, thus depriving James, Hassan, skipper Soh Chin Aun and his centreback partner Santokh Singh, Mokhtar Dahari, R. Arumugam & company, the exposure and reward they deserve for being the best in Asia for that honeyed moment in time.These players were so good and such household powerhouses that they dominated the game for almost a generation.
Abjectly, such household profundity also died with the 1970s, lamented Bung Moktar Radin (BN- Kinabatangan) when he interjected repeatedly the winding-up on the Royal Address on sport issues by Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wee Jeck Seng (BN-Tanjong Piai).
With animated indignation and a booming voice that seems capable of emulating Sir Alex Ferguson’s “hair dryer” treatment on Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes or Wayne Rooney should they perform terribly, Bung Mokhtar lambasted the dodgy state of Malaysian football, mocking the absence of “household names” and mocking more the inability of Malaysia to match our Asian neighbours’ rise to footballing power.
Bung Mokhtar also indicated his poor understanding of how Malaysian football could degenerate and deplete so depravedly that anytime there was a match, the number of fans could be counted with one hand.Bung Mokhtar may be referring also to what did happened over the decades - debacle after debacle after debacle so atrocious that it was pointless to tabulate or post-mortem them, all these high profiled failures in almost every tournament that the team entered, year in and year out.
By next year, you could dub it a 30-year curse. It was so bad that a miserable FIFA ranking of 164 was the best the team could muster despite the funding and facilities available. (Iraq won the Asian Cup under threat of war, terrorism and suicide bomb murder, so try to beat THAT!).
Wee put up a spirited defence of the FAM, which he stated was putting together a programme to revive football’s fortunes but Bung Mokhtar won’t have any of that as he launched into a tirade of FAM’s failure, cemented by the fact that the national team could not even beat Vietnam, a country he characterised as “once who couldn't even feed its own citizens.”Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) was more ruthless: he demanded that the entire FAM board be sacked but Wee reminded MPs that the Government cannot interfere into FAM’s affairs, to which Bung Mokhtar sneered back, suggesting that the football organisation had been floored by the weight of decades of tired excuses.
He dismissed the excuse of absentee sponsors as why football is languishing and directed the fault to poor standards, citing AirAsia’s willingness to sponsor Manchester United’s shirts because of the marketability of its brand, which was an excellent team.Bung Mokhtar can also weigh in on what was not available since then - a team of world beaters that could reprise what Soh Chin Aun and Co surmounted in 1980.
The dream of entering the first World Cup is as good as Malaysia fielding representatives in any of the big four English Premier League teams of Manchester united, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Zilch, that is! And Korea, which we beat regularly during those mercurial years, can boast of Ji-Sung Park as a Red Devils regular.
The reasons for the massive decline appear to be manifold::: loss of mega sponsorships and by that loss of funding to buy and pay players, :: collapse of grassroots structure to pool young players, professional coaches who failed to make the difference (with the exception of Karl Heinz Weigang who managed the victorious 1980 team), :: match-fixing that reared into a full-fledged criminal investigations, and,:: the English Premier League’s seductive lure of fans so corrosive that local matches were scheduled on week days to avoid a clash of fixtures in the weekends.
At least these are the tangible reasons outlined by Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) in his capacity as the Football Association of Malaysia deputy president. Startlingly, he proferred an extremely radical antidote to all the venom poisoning the national team. "If I have a free hand, I would suspend the league for next year," he blasted away in a surprisingly confessional Malaysiakini interview. "I will not waste money on the league. I would stop everything, tear everything down, and start building it back from the ground up.”
Good hunting on that.Khairy’s analysis appears to be luminously precise but that’s the half of it. The other half may have something to do with the idiosyncrasies of the Malaysian psyche, way of life, attitudes, traditions, stigmatic notions of sports, even Government socio-economic policies and the hoary trend that politicians and the royal houses manage the association.
In the first place, schools, which use to be fertile ground for new talent, have shrunk in significance. Parents would rather herd their kids to karate, piano, computer and ballet classes, and tuition and more tuition, rather then dump their boys and girls into a soccer academy, or allow them the time to play football for fun after school’s out. Without parental support, professional football, or any professional sports, is a false perception.
Need proof of successful professional Malaysian athletes? Look at Nicol David (a dominant World No. 1 woman squash player, Shalin Zulkifli (world class bowler and winner of many international titles) and the Sidek brothers (Thomas Cup and All-England champs, and a bountiful of international titles).
They all excelled to world standards after years of solid parental encouragement, coaching, nurturing and push.With a loaded school syllabus that demands cramming and more cramming, just to pass much-vaunted examinations, who has time for a great game of football? Kids kicking around a football or whatever resembles a ball, either barefooted or with boots on can’t be spotted: they’d rather be at home playing a football game on their Sony Playstations!
What used to be football fields that act as a petri dish to germinate and nurture little M. Chandrans, Soh Chin Auns and Mokhtar Daharis have been hijacked by greedy housing developers staking their claims on valuable real estate as the next multi-million dollar duplex apartments, thus depriving an avenue for kids to simply kick a ball around.
No wonder futsal is more popular but it is played on high-rise roofs and small enclosures - there’s no real prestige, money and glamour in this peripheral game.
And the footballers themselves? A pampered lot, the ones who could have made a name for themselves, with no real conviction to stay abroad for a stint with minor European clubs and, if history and recent reports infer, a bribable lot who nonchalantly throw away games for a measly slice of the bookie’s dirty moolah.
And then there are the shrinking violets who can’t meet the demand for steeliness, of players who put their heads where others don’t even dare put their feet. Our footballers, unlike the Vietnamese, are no longer a hungry bunch.
Let’s give Khairy’s radical make-up a once over: the suspension of the league is doable with grit and enough political will, but how would KJ persuade resentful parents, Playstation-addicted kids and land-grabbing developers from giving the game its much-needed resuscitation?
If Khairy can tackle these three stumbling blocks, re-create a brand new Malaysian team with World Cup potential and at the very least, win something…anything!
Then football fans can rejoice and, who knows, endorse him as the next future FAM president-cum-Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


This article appeared on The Star Online today. Well members of the august house are up to their normal self, sitting down there and just talk about how bad football standards are when its the economy they should be concerned about. Perhaps we should make some of them office bearers and see how different they can run things, any takers?
Football: MPs slam FAM in Parliament

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of Parliament hurled brickbats at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for the dismal state of local football.
Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wee Jeck Seng had just started his winding-up speech on his ministry when Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) stood up and chided the FAM for failing to raise the standards of Malaysian football.
Bung Mokhtar said the FAM leadership should undergo a major revamp to return Malaysian football to its old glory.
“We have been beaten by countries which can’t even feed their citizens,” he added.
Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) went a step further and demanded that everyone in FAM be sacked.
When Wee said that the Government cannot simply interfere in the main football governing body when problems occur, Bung Mokhtar interjected and said that no improvement was forthcoming even after decades of discussions and ideas.
“No sponsors are giving money because of the poor standard of Malaysian football.
“AirAsia sponsored Manchester United because they have good players,” he added.
Wee said the ministry was serious about improving the state of local football and recommendations would be brought up to the ministry for action.

Monday, March 02, 2009


This article appeared in Malaysiakini and provides some people in FAM the perfect setting to get rid of KJ. Will they have the guts to do it? Or is it just those without positions that will face the wrath of the newly created regulation in FAM?

Khairy: Own goals keeping local football down

K Kabilan Feb 27, 09 3:15pm

Talk to any local football fan and you will only hear regret in his or her voice about the standards of Malaysian football today.

They will most probably reminisce about the golden days of local football in the 1970s and 1980s. And it is very likely that they would not be able to name any big football stars from the current batch.Long gone are the days when football stadiums across the country and the Causeway - the likes of Stadium Merdeka, Likas Stadium, Stadium Larkin, City Stadium and the National Stadium - were packed with hardcore fans.

It is very common now to see these stadiums half-empty or with only a handful of supporters watching a match. No match today has the intensity of a Selangor versus Singapore game of the past.For the man on the street, there are many things wrong with Malaysian football, and each would have his or her own suggestions to revive local standards of the ‘beautiful game'.

However, Football Association of Malaysia deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin has a rather simplistic, albeit controversial, solution."If I have a free hand, I would suspend the league for next year," he told Malaysiakini."I will not waste money on the league. I would stop everything, tear everything down, and start building it back from the ground up," he added.

The FAM presently runs two senior competitive leagues - the Malaysian Super League and Malaysian Premier League. Both the leagues comprise 14 teams each.The FAM also runs two cup competitions - the Malaysia Cup and the Malaysia FA Cup.Players for the national team are drawn from the teams competing in the local leagues.

At present, the national football team is without a manager and stands at a lowly rank of 164 in international standings.Khairy's five reasonsKhairy also listed five reasons for the abysmal standard of Malaysian football today - lack of money, no grassroots structure to pool young players from, no professional coaches, the scourge of corruption among players and losing supporters to the European leagues.

"Football today suffers from a lack of money. We have lost the tobacco sponsorship. So most of the money that we get is spent on the league and all the national teams, both of which are crap," he admitted.

It must be noted that about RM300 million was pumped into the FAM from 1997-2005 by then sponsor Dunhill. This funding has now dried up and the FAM is seeking fresh aid from the government to revitalise the local football scene.The cash-flow problem is also a reason why local teams have been barred by the FAM from hiring foreign players.Many teams have struggled to pay the wages of these foreign players, leaving them unpaid or worse still, having their contracts terminated without proper reasons.

Supporters and football pundits have argued that the presence of these foreign players would have added glamour to the league - like how it has done for the Japanese league.The other view - which eventually won the day - was that the presence of foreign players would hamper the growth of local talent.Several local teams too have been guilty of hiring questionable foreign players who are eventually let off due to their sub-playing standards.

Khairy, however, felt that it was not just the presence of foreign players that was hampering the growth of the local talent.He blames that squarely on a lack of opportunities for young local talents to be spotted.

"We don't have a grassroots structure anymore. There are no more (new) state-run academies or any local leagues for new talents to come up and be identified," he said.Match-fixing still rampantAnd in tandem with this, his third reason for the present malady appears - a lack of professional coaches in football academies or schools of excellence.

"The academies are not staffed with professional coaches. Coaches are not trained properly. And they are not licensed properly," he charged.Khairy also did not mince his word when he said that corruption still existed in the game."There is still some element of graft in the game, which still affects the top level personnel throwing games and things like that (away)," he said, with his demeanour and body language suggesting that even those in the top echelons of FAM have no idea how to tackle the problem.

The golden era of Malaysian football came to a complete halt in 1994 when almost 100 players - including many household names and international players - were barred for life from playing, for their part in match-fixing in 1994-1995.Ever since, the standard of Malaysian football has never been the same.

All league results are now viewed with a suspicious eye - be it a big-margin win or an upset defeat.And to make things worse, several players were hauled up last year for allegedly selling matches.

Khairy's admission of corruption in the game only adds confirmation to the suspicion that bookies are still controlling local football leagues.

Rounding up his fifth reason for the fall from grace of Malaysian football, Khairy blamed the popular European leagues of taking away supporters from local matches.Local media has a role tooHe, however, said the European leagues alone were not responsible for the troubles plaguing Malaysian football. In fact, local supporters have turned to the European leagues as a result of troubles in local football.

"It's a vicious cycle. People are not interested in local football."Simply because at the moment Astro decides to show games on a Saturday night, people don't go to the stadium anymore," he said.

He also blamed some of the local newspapers for a lack of coverage on local football."It's all about Manchester United, about Liverpool, about Arsenal, so how do you get out of the vicious cycle if Malaysians themselves couldn't care less?"If I ask you to name five players from the national team, can you? Hard pressed, right?" he said.

Given such circumstances, he said, his remedy to solve the problem would be to suspend the local league for a year and try to start afresh from the grassroots level.

Khairy might be on to something as he has tasted success before with his MyTeam - a team playing in the Super League with unknown football players selected at trials held around Malaysia