KUALA LUMPUR: There were arguments, debates, differences in opinions and even time for a light-moment when an official dozed off and snored during the FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) brainstorming session at the National Sports Council (NSC) Complex in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Perhaps, it was because of the same old issues being raised and thrashed out over and over again from the previous sessions — on foreign players, the format of the Malaysian League, the financial status of teams, clubs participation, salary scale of players, early kick-off times and fixtures.
In fact, there is nothing much to look forward in a five-year comprehensive domestic calendar (2010-2014), which the FAM have planned to bring about positive results in Malaysian football.
The issue of foreign players was again discussed at length. It was the opinion of many that the FAM should review their decision on not allowing teams to hire foreigners after the 2009 season.
Then, there was the argument on the format of the Malaysia Cup competition. There were proposals that state teams should not get a direct entry into prestigious tournament and should earn their place on merit from their placings in the Super and Premier League.
The majority of the State FAs felt that there was nostalgia in the Malaysia Cup competition and it should feature only state teams and two of the FAM affiliates, Police and Armed Forces.
Seasoned campaigner M. Karathu was one of the participants, who felt that there should be a more concerted efforts to upgrade the standard of the game by first reviewing the country’s football system.
The game turned fully professional in 1994 but sadly there has been nothing to shout about.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in their report in May this year had made assessments of 21 member associations, including Malaysia. It was a study on countries with a professional league to qualify for the Asian Champions League.
The assessments were based on 10 aspects — organisation, technical standards. attendance, governance, marketing and promotion, business scale, match organisation, media, stadiums and clubs.
Malaysia were ranked No. 18 out of the 21 nations and graded D, which meant that they did not meet the criteria. Only Japan met all criteria and were graded A.
Neighbours Indonesia and nine other nations (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Iran, India, Australia, China and South Korea) were graded B, which meant that they were assured to meet the criteria by this year. Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Uzbekistan, Syria and Qatar were graded C, which meant they were not assured to meet the criteria by this year.
And the message is clear — we are still heading nowhere.
The FAM competition committee, headed by Datuk Che Mat Jusoh, will deliberate on the overall findings of the 100-odd participants before giving their recommendations to the FAM Council for endorsement on Dec 6.
The participants comprised team officials from the state FAs, clubs, coaches and even members of the media, who turned up in full force to give their input to find ways and means to lift Malaysian football.