PETALING JAYA: About RM300mil was pumped into the FA of Malaysia (FAM) from 1997-2005 by then sponsors Dunhill.
Despite the huge financial backing, Malaysian football continued to go on a downward spiral, from which it has yet to recover.
Simply put, it was money down the drain.
If FAM could not lift Malaysia’s footballing fortunes with that kind of cash, what hope is there in these days of global credit crunch?
No wonder former national coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim as well as former internationals Dollah Salleh and K. Gunalan can’t help but see a bleak future ahead for the nation’s number one sport.
“I have been saying the same old thing over and over again for the last 20 years. There must be a concerted and radical change to fight the rot in our football system. Otherwise, we are going to talk about the same thing for the next 20 years,” said Abdul Rahman.
“No one is serious about taking action. There is no point talking about what is right and wrong any more … it is action time. We need to see changes.”
Dollah said that unless there were positive changes in the junior development programmes at the state level, the standard of Malaysian football would remain the same — mediocre.
“The district leagues and the FAM Cup used to produce talents for the country and they used to draw large crowds during my playing days. What has happened?” asked Dollah.
Gunalan also felt that a major overhaul was needed to bring about changes.
“We are a multi-racial country, with a population of 27 million … it is sad that we are unable to pool our resources together to field a strong national team,” he said.
Only last week, the FAM came under fire (again) after the national team’s 5-0 mauling by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Asian Cup qualifying round match.
Sultan Ahmad Shah, who has been in charge of the FAM for 25 years now, has promised to crack the whip and bring changes when the executive committee meet at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya on Saturday.
He has had 25 long years to do it, but nothing happened. Now, for the umpteenth time, he has promised to crack down on the laggards in the FAM and State FAs in a bid to revive Malaysia’s football fortunes.
Malaysian football fans, however, have heard it all before and are not buying it.
The Star SMS Poll, carried on Sunday, proved that the majority felt that the FAM president should be held responsible for the dismal state of Malaysian football.
A total of 68 % of those who responded to the poll held the FAM president accountable for the poor state of Malaysian football. Another 21% put the blame on the players, 8% on the affiliates and 2.7 % on the coaches.
The message is clear, Tuanku.