Malaysia's football faces 'doomsday' if player attacks not addressed

The MFL and FAM were already dealing with several issues, and these assaults have made things worse.

10 May 2024 01:17pm
Analysts noted that attacks on footballers threaten future of Malaysian football. - Photo by Bernama
Analysts noted that attacks on footballers threaten future of Malaysian football. - Photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - Recent attacks on Malaysian footballers have added to the existing problems facing the country's football scene.

The Malaysian Football League (MFL) and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) were already dealing with several issues, and these assaults have made things worse.

A Decline in Football

Sportswriter Arnaz M. Khairul pointed out that unpaid salaries and financial troubles have already caused the M League to shrink from 24 teams to just 13.

“With these problems compounding the existing challenges, I believe the MFL and FAM now face even more significant obstacles in addressing the issues plaguing Malaysian football.

“These incidents are indeed terrible, but they could also shape the character of these athletes.

"I believe they will be determined not to be defeated by these challenges and will strive to overcome them,” he said.

Drawing parallels between crime-related incidents involving foreign footballers and recent attacks on local Malaysian footballers, Arnaz highlighted that the cases concerning Liverpool’s winger, Luis Diaz, and former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel were criminal acts aimed at affluent individuals for ransom, distinct from football matters.

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Arnaz cited instances such as the actions of Sporting CP fans and Ajax Ultras as manifestations of discontent with their teams' performances, driven by fervent supporter factions.

“While these incidents are serious, each country has law enforcement agencies, including police and military, equipped to address such breaches of law alongside other criminal activities,” he added.

Fan Concerns

Concurring Arnaz’s perspectives, academician Afi Rozhesry said as a football fan, he is genuinely concerned about the safety of the players.

“However, these incidents have not only worried fans but have also created a negative perception among the public.

"Now, as supporters, we fear for our own safety when attending matches, which could have repercussions on Malaysia's football scene, including sponsorship.

"It is crucial that authorities act fast and effectively to address this issue.

"If left unresolved, it would be a pity as we have a strong base of grassroots supporters, both at the national and state levels.

"I dare say if this incident is not handled properly, it is gonna be a ‘Doomsday’ for Malaysian football,” he cautioned.

Afi urged the authorities to apprehend the culprits and ensure they face severe consequences to prevent further harm to Malaysian football.

"Comparing these incidents involving our local footballers with cases abroad, such as the kidnapping of Liverpool's Diaz and former Chelsea midfielder Obi Mikel's parents, I could see some similarities involving bookies or gangsterism.

“My instinct suggests that these incidents could be linked to bookies who failed to convince the players to accept bribes, leading them to resort to terror tactics,” he said.

Focus on Malaysia

Meanwhile, seasoned sports journalist Graig Nunis offered his take on the comparisons between crime-related incidents involving foreign football superstars and recent attacks on local Malaysian footballers, emphasising that these are different scenarios.

“The National Liberation Army claimed they used kidnapping to obtain the ransom money.

"Diaz's father was merely one of the victims. It is the same in Obi Mikel's case, where kidnapping for ransom is not unusual.

“Kidnappers will target people with money. Fans attacking their teams is a rare occurrence; I sincerely hope it never occurs here in our country,” he said.

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