Everything You Should Know About The Violent Attacks On High-Profile M'sian Footballers

One of them, Faisal Halim, is in an intensive care unit with fourth-degree burns.

Cover image via FMT & Scoop

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On the night of 2 May, Harimau Malaya's star footballer Akhyar Rashid suffered a brutal attack outside his residence in Terengganu

Initially reported as a robbery case, the 25-year-old winger — on loan from Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) to Terengganu Football Club (FC), two of the 14 clubs under the Malaysia Super League (M-League) — was violently assaulted with an iron rod by two unidentified assailants, dressed in black and masked.

Akhyar suffered significant injuries: a 4cm gash on the crown of his head and two stitches on his left leg.

Image via FMT

Three days later, on 5 May, Akhyar's national teammate Faisal Halim was assaulted at a shopping mall in Kota Damansara, where two men on a motorcycle splashed sulphuric acid on the Selangor FC winger

The photos of his scalded body shocked everyone, raising concerns about player safety.

Faisal, who has gone through multiple surgeries and is in critical condition, was splashed with highly corrosive concentrated sulphuric acid, which reacts rapidly when it comes into contact with skin.

His left hand has limited mobility, raising concerns about his future.

According to Selangor Football Association (FAS) deputy president Datuk Seri Shahril Mokhtar, the 26-year-old would not be making a comeback to the field for a minimum of six months.

Image via FMT

Then, on the night of 7 May, a third footballer was accosted by two assailants on a motorcycle who threatened him with a hammer and smashed his car's rear window

While Safiq, who posted about the incident on Instagram, was not harmed, the 36-year-old JDT midfielder shared that the incident, which occurred near the JDT training centre has left him emotionally traumatised.

The former Malaysia men's skipper has lodged a police report, with JDT's chief executive officer Alistair Edwards expressing concern and urging the law enforcement authorities to investigate the incidents.

Given the violent nature of the attacks, the season's curtain raiser between Selangor FC and JDT on Friday, 10 May, has now been cancelled after the former decided to withdraw citing safety concerns

In an official statement posted on its Facebook page late last night, 8 May, Selangor FC said the club has to make a very tough decision of withdrawing from the long-awaited 2024 Charity Shield tournament.

"Given the uncertainties surrounding the club at present, Selangor would like to emphasise that the safety of the team is of utmost importance and we take all forms of violence and threats seriously. We will not compromise on matters related to the safety of the team," it said while apologising for the inconvenience.

Following Selangor FC's withdrawal, the Malaysian Football League has awarded JDT a walkover victory with a 3-0 scoreline, granting them the initial three points in the 2024/2025 M-League.

Needless to say, all this has fueled wild speculation on social media

An individual by the name of Muhammad Imran Suresh alleged that he had been called in by the police as he had information but was asked to keep his mouth shut from revealing the motive behind the assaults.

The individual had posted conspiracy theories on his Instagram Stories. However, SAYS is choosing not to share them as the claims cannot be verified.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain dismissed the allegations, saying that rumours of a conspiracy are not true.

"We will brush these (claims) off at this juncture. That's all speculation for the time being," he said, adding that the individual's Instagram account was found to be fake.

"We are monitoring social media with the assistance of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. We cannot allow any individual to take advantage and disrupt the situation," he added.

So what's going on?

Shuhaily said the police are looking into the possibility that the assaults were linked to accusations levelled at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) late last month when a so-called poison pen letter went viral.

The letter accused FAM of abuse of power, mismanaging funds, discrepancies in salaries and benefits, as well as issues with the Harimau Malaya squad and the national training centre project.

However, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) dismissed the allegations.

Shuhaily then told reporters that the police would now probe if there was any dissatisfaction with MACC's findings, which prompted certain parties to take out their frustration on the national players.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain (centre).

Image via Hazreen Mohamad/New Straits Times

The Bukit Aman also said that the attacks followed a pattern

We have identified the modus operandi... with the assailants working in pairs in all three cases.
Mohd Shuhaily

He said it is believed that the suspects had followed the victims before attacking them.

"Each time there's an attack, it's done in pairs. They stalk the victim before attacking.

"These three cases happened two days apart starting from the first case involving Terengganu FC footballer Akhyar Rashid, the second case [involving Selangor FC winger Faisal Halim], and the third one involving [JDT midfielder] Safiq Rahim," Sinar Daily quoted him as saying during a press conference yesterday, 8 May.

Despite the similar pattern, Shuhaily insisted that the attacks were not linked to each other as the exact motive has not been determined

"We have made two arrests so far in connection with Faisal's case. One suspect has been released while the other is still under remand," he said, adding that the suspect has seven cases on his record.

"The suspect has been arrested for misuse of network facilities, voluntarily causing hurt using a dangerous weapon, gang robbery, impersonating a civil servant, criminal intimidation, and extortion," he said.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has denied rumours that the FAM's senior management is under scrutiny

"No [they are not being targeted]. I just wanted to meet Faisal," Saifuddin told reporters.

On the other hand, FAM president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, while commenting on Shuhaily's remarks about the poison pen letter, urged for wild speculations to cease, reported Scoop.

Hamidin stated that he would also not step down.

"I know what I'm doing, I am sincere in my work without any hidden agenda. If people think otherwise, there really isn't. So, that statement is each person's assumption… I leave it to the authorities.

"We need to restore the image of national football so that such incidents do not recur, and we need to address this issue together. So I remind all fans not to speculate further and escalate the situation," he said.

Image via Sccop

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