Harimau Malaya Supporters Explain Why Flares Were Thrown During World Cup Qualifier Game

The act is reminiscent of an encounter when during a match of Malaysia and the Philippines last year, fans set off fireworks, flares and smoke bombs after 30 minutes of the first half in protest against the leadership of FAM.

Worldwide ban awaits FAM if government continues to interfere

Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general, Datuk Peter Velappan

Image via Free Malaysia Today

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) could face severe consequences including the possibility of being suspended by FIFA if there was interference from the government, warned a former football administrator.

Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general, Datuk Peter Velappan said under Articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statute, its clearly stated that the government has no right to meddle in national football associations.

"If they (Sports and Youth Ministry) continue to interfere, I think FAM will not exist anymore and the national team cannot take part in World Cup qualifying matches in the future," he told.

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Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has disregarded the possible threat and went on to instruct Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman to send a show-cause letter to FAM on Wednesday (9 September)

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin

Image via The Malaysian Insider

Fireworks, flares and smoke bombs were thrown onto the pitch by a group of unruly fans during the World Cup Asian Zone Group A qualifying match at the Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday (8th September).

Khairy said the incident was “the final straw” because it threatened public safety.

“Under our Sports Development Act, the Sports Commissioner has the authority to instruct associations to provide information when public safety is threatened,” he told.

Khairy said the Sports Commissioner could take action, including de-registration or suspension, after receiving FAM’s reply.

He said he was aware of the long-term consequences of a FIFA ban, “but you know, we cannot not act just because we are concerned about international sanction”.

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Khairy asserted that both FAM and the fans share the same responsibility for the incident that "has strained diplomatic ties"

He said many felt that the incident was understandable because the group of fans was angry with FAM.

“Everyone is angry with FAM, including myself, but they cannot do such a thing."

“Through their actions, public security was jeopardised and our nation humiliated. I was there with my son and I saw how dangerous it was,” said Khairy.

He said FAM was also to blame because it lost control of the fans on its own turf.

“I’m not exerting power here or restructuring the leadership at FAM. I cannot do that because they are democratically elected."

“But as the sports minister, it is my responsibility to look into the administration of FAM,” Khairy said.

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9 SEPT: You should have already heard about the rowdy football fans who threw flares during the World Cup qualifying match between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia yesterday night, 8 September

The World Cup 2018 Asian qualifier between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia came to a sudden halt in the 88th minute when spectators threw flares on to the pitch. Saudi Arabia were leading 2-1 at the time.

There were also reports of fights breaking out between fans. Players from both teams left the pitch as smoke began filling the ground and the game was suspended. Local media reports that fans had thrown the flares as well as fireworks on to the pitch.

According to Reuters, the match was later abandoned with the outcome to be decided by the sport's world governing body FIFA.

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Earlier this week, Ultras Malaya, a supporters group, has urged fans to gather at the Shah Alam stadium, to voice their anger at the performances of the national team due and protest against Football Association of Malaysia (FAM)

One of the posters posted on Ultras Malaya Facebook page

Image via Ultras Malaya Facebook

One fan, Zulhalmi Nahar, wrote on the Ultras Malaya Facebook page: "Please do what we did when Malaysia played the Philippines last year."

During that encounter last March, fans set off fireworks, flares and smoke bombs after 30 minutes of the first half in protest against the leadership of FAM.

The incident earned FAM the wrath of the Asian Football Confederation and a fine of US$10,000 (RM43,443).

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Ultras Malaya has also posted a status on 7 September that listed 31 reasons why 'FAM is sleeping'. Yesterday, Harimau Malaya, a Malaysian football community, also reposted the status on its Facebook page that has more than 1 million fans. Read on to know more:

1. Overall worsening performance for the national team since 1980

Malaysia winning the ASEAN Cup in 2010

Image via AFF Suzuki Cup

Under the administration of the current President and his predecessors:
• Malaysia has never qualified for Olympics. The last time Malaysia qualified for Olympics was 35 years ago.
• Malaysia has never qualified for AFC Asian Cup by merit. The last time Malaysia qualified for AFC Asian Cup by merit was 35 years ago.
• Malaysia has only qualified for the finals in AFC Asian Cup once, in 2007. That is also only because Malaysia was the host.

Under the administration of the current President:
• Malaysia's ranking has plummeted to 34th in Asia. When FIFA first introduced the world rankings 21 years ago in 1993), Malaysia was ranked 14th in Asia.
• Malaysia's ranking plummeted to 169th in the world, the worst in the nation's football history. In 1993, Malaysia was ranked 77th in the world
• Malaysia's ranking is after Bhutan, a country that had once been the in the lowest of the lowest for FIFA rankings.
• Malaysia's ranking is below Indonesia, a country that is being suspended by FIFA and is not allowed to participate in any competitive games.
• Malaysia suffered the worst defeat in the history of football, that is 10-0 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
• FAM has ‘auctioned the honour’ of the country to organizers by exhibiting matches with dubious results.

• During AFC Asian Cup 2007, Malaysia only managed to score 1 goal although the team conceded 12 times, and finished bottom of the group.
• In 2012, during AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, Myanmar defeated Malaysia by reducing older players but FAM general secretary just said, "I was not informed."
• Now, for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, Malaysia only managed to score 1 goal but conceded 17 times, and subsequently fell to the bottom of the group, after Timor-Leste.
• Malaysia's first opponent in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, namely Timor-Leste, had been 46 places below Malaysia in the FIFA rankings. Now, Timor-Leste has gone up 6 ranks above Malaysia.
Malaysian football league is categorized as grade 'D' although it has undergone a transition period of 25 years from the amateur league to semi-pro league in 1989, and then to the professional league in 1993.

2. Scandals surrounding FAM over the years

A police officer extinguishes a flare on the pitch thrown by angry fans

Image via Reuters/The Malay Mail Online

• Back in 2009, FAM had arbitrarily allowed the country's image to be tarnished by the gambling syndicate, 'Asiagate' when they permitted a friendly match with Monomotapa United FC that disguised as Zimbabwe's national team.
• FAM allowed the hosting of Manchester United Asian Tour 2007 while the AFC Asian Cup was underway, until it invited criticisms from FIFA.
• On February 2013, former Secretary-General FAM had easily accepted the letter of explanation from technical director of Football Queensland concerning the cancellation of a friendly match of Harimau Muda ‘A’ eventhough the match was supposed to take place with Brisbane Roar club. This match has never been announced by Brisbane Roar club.
• Harimau Muda’s tour to Slovakia was claimed to be organised with the help of Miroslav Bozik, an individual that was wanted by Interpol for corruption in 1995. Harimau Muda didn’t lose to Slovika but it was defeated by Laos and Myanmar before the team was thrashed with a 5-0 win to Thailand
• Three parties had bid for the rights to broadcast the league: TM-Media Prima, Astro-Fox Sports and Zenith. However, FAM has left the decision to be made by MP & Silva.
• In the last month, FAM was in talks to organize Liga Bolasepak Rakyat with individuals who had been detained in the investigation of MACC for 1MDB.
• Government payment vouchers in 2011 show that government funds as much as RM6,091,200 were distributed to the foundation by FAM’s President for Lawatan Pasukan Bola Sepak British Premier League Club.

3. Lack of accountability from FAM

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah

Image via Free Malaysia Today

• Only the agent of matches (not the player's agent) registered with FIFA can lead a team to play in Malaysia. However, FAM’s general secretary refused to reveal the identity of the agent for the Barcelona game in 2013.
• The FAM president was the President of Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and FIFA Exco simultaneously.
• FAM's treasurer holds position in Badminton Association Malaysia (BAM) and Majlis Olimpik Malaysia (MOM).
• FAM has failed to implement the privatisation of the league in 2015. This resulted in the loss of millions of ringgit to the state’s FA, clubs and stakeholders.
• As a body registered under the Sports Development Act, FAM has never presented its financial statements to the people of Malaysia.
• Records show that the coach responsible for the worst defeat in the nation’s history was receiving one of the biggest salary in history, which is RM712,700 per annum.

4. Lack of good management by FAM

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) President speaking to a group of players

Image via The Borneo Post

• In order to administer the Malaysian football league, including a grade ‘D’ league, the number of staffs FAM has is double to Japan Football Association.
• FAM felt the need to rotate the number of teams in a grade of "D" league from 14 teams to 12, and back to 14 teams again.
• FAM’s agreement with Singapore has expired, but FAM still feels the need to continue it with the participation of Harimau Muda directly into the Super League.
• FAM increased the number of match days in the month of Ramadan, including a 3-days match in a short period of 7 days, to allow matches against clubs outside. All football games in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, UAE, including Bosnia were stopped before or on the month of Ramadan, with the exception of countries such as Iraq and Syria that had to shift the schedule as a result of war.

FAM has condemned the fans' irresponsible action and described it as "most embarrassing” thing in the history of Malaysian football

FAM deputy president Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad

Image via Hareshdeol

FAM deputy president Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad said it has tainted the image of Malaysian football and stern action must be taken on those involved in the incident.

“I don’t know what their motives are. Is ‘Ultras Malaya’ a registered body or a loose alliance of fans? FAM must engage with them and settle matters. They are very unhappy."

“Did the fans hid the banned items inside the stadium days before the match? It is something the police must investigate."

“There were only 10,000 fans in the stadium but yet the security could not control them. I do not want to question the strategy outlined by the police to manage the fans,” Mokhtar added.

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Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has expressed his disappointment over the 'shameful incident'

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin

Image via Free Malaysia Today

“I was at the Shah Alam Stadium. Saw for myself the shameful incident. Throwing flares is wrong. Stadium control failed."

“FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) lost control at their own stadium. Fans throwing flares is wrong. Both at fault tonight,” he said in his Twitter feed last night.

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Meanwhile, police has nabbed 11 individuals over the incident

When asked if the 11 arrested were part of the Ultras Malaya, Shah Alam OCPD Asst Comm Shafien Mamat declined to comment.

He said police would investigate how the flares and fireworks were smuggled into the stadium.

"Maybe the items were smuggled into the stadium earlier. We will liaise with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Shah Alam City Hall the matter," he said.

The Shah Alam police chief confirmed that no football fans from Saudi Arabia were reported to have been hurt in alleged assault incidents.

"So far, we haven't received any report of assault by Saudi Arabian supporters. An envoy told me that no Saudi Arabia supporters were injured," Shafien was quoted saying.

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Dollah Salleh has resigned as Harimau Malaya chief coach after Malaysia suffered a 0-10 defeat to United Arab Emirates (UAE), the biggest in any international match:

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