PETALING JAYA: The FA of Malaysia are contemplating taking drastic actions, including suspending the Malaysia Cup and cancelling the Inter-Continental Cup Under-23 tournament, if more match-fixing cases crop up in the next two weeks.
FA of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin said these were among the measures they would take if more teams and players were hauled up in the on-going probe conducted by the police and the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).
He added that if the ACA and police could provide evidence of match-fixing in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) this season, then the high-profile Inter-Continental Cup tournament, featuring Beijing Olympic Games-bound Argentina, Australia and Nigeria, would definitely be called off.
The eight-team tournament, to be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 15-25, will also feature Ghana, Ireland, Iraq, Croatia and hosts Malaysia.
“The nation’s image will be tarnished if any of the national players are hauled up by the authorities during this international tournament,” Khairy told a press conference at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
His comments came after five current players and a former player from the Sarawak Super League team were detained on Thursday. Another two players were picked up yesterday.
However, the seven players have been released while the former player has been remanded for four days by the magistrate’s court in Kuching to facilitate the ACA’s probe.
The Police FA have also reportedly hauled up nine players for so-called “poor performances”.
Khairy confirmed yesterday that the FAM had received reports that the ACA and the police have been carrying out investigations on two teams in the Super League – Sarawak and Police FA.
“We are declaring all-out war against corruption in football even if it means having to overhaul our entire system (football structure). If investigations by the authorities indicate that match-fixing is rampant, we do not rule out taking drastic measures, including suspending the Malaysia Cup (scheduled to kick off in June),” said Khairy.
The other events lined up for the year by FAM are the Champions Youth Cup (CYC) in August, a friendly against English Premier League giants Chelsea (July 29), Merdeka Tournament (October) and the Asean Football Federation Championship (December).
The FAM have also appointed general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad to head a task force to assist the ACA and the police in their investigations.
“I thought we had overcome the bribery problem in 1994. Since it has resurfaced, we will view it just as seriously,” Khairy, said referring to the 1994 crackdown on match-fixing.
In 1994 a total of 126 players were picked up for questioning. Of the number, 21 players and coaches were banished and 58 others banned for between one and four years.