PTJ04_060417_REMAN_MIFA

Fix it once and for all

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WILL match-fixing be completely eradicated?

No — as long as all parties concerned do not cooperate to the fullest to clean up the game.

Match-fixing reared its ugly head again with arrest of three Premier League players, an alleged bookie hauled up and another linked to fixing matches asked by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to surrender to help investigations.

This came after MISC-Mifa coach Jacob Joseph disclosure to a national daily, he suspected several of his players being “dishonest” in losing a Premier League match 7-2 at home to UiTM where Mifa conceded all goals with only 15 minutes left.

Kudos to Jacob for the disclosure and MAAC for acting swiftly and making inroads.

But FA of Malaysia (FAM), state FAs, coaches, managers and team management officials, cannot just rely on MACC or the Police.

As owners and governors of the teams and game, they have to make the first move to eradicate the menace instead of sweeping it under the carpet, pleading they have no evidence, turning a blind or even being in denial mode.

It is refreshing Selangor and Perak FAs have taken the initiative to have MACC conduct anti-corruption seminars for players and officials and even have officers from MACC and Police sit in their monitoring committee.

However, if only more coaches like Jacob raise the alarm each time they suspect something amiss, it will not only keep players in check, but assist authorities.

Match-fixing has plagued Malaysia even way before the 1994 episode when an investigation saw 21 players and coaches sacked, 58 players suspended and 126 players questioned over corruption.

After that:

Negri Sembilan FA lodged a police report over alleged match-fixing activities involving their President’s Cup players in 2011.

There were talks of eight Kedah President’s Cup players caught with RM90,000 the same year. They were apparently sacked by Kedah FA.

Nine Perlis Premier League players admitted having contact with a bookmaker who offered them up to RM100,000 each before they lost 7-2 against MP Muar in 2012.

A Singaporean bookie was charged with fixing President’s Cup matches.

Former T-Team President’s Cup goalkeeper coach was also charged for a similar offence in Kuala Terengganu.

In 2009, FAM were stung by match-fixing bug by playing two friendlies against a fake Zimbabwe national team. Malaysia won both friendlies against what turned out to be a club side instead of the national team, with Fifa later revoking the status of the games.

Other recent cases involve the Negri Sembilan President’s Cup team players ad coach and Kuala Lumpur Premier League team players.

We have even had referees implicated.

It is a clear indication match-fixing is very much in existence and even more alarming at youth level.

Among the questions to be asked: are FAM and the integrity committee doing enough?

FAM issue licences to local and foreign players, coaches and team officials each year and one wonders if proper vetting is done?

Questions need to be asked how players who have been on FAM or MACC radar for alleged fixing have been issued with licenses.

What about the one-season cooling period for foreign players who have played in an Asean country before he can play in Malaysia. Has this been strictly observed?

Coaches and team management must also stop hiring players who come as “package” of three or four players.

A senior coach revealed these players were suspects of match-fixing.

Statements like those below cannot hold water anymore:

“Corruption in football is a criminal offence and is under the jurisdiction of the police and MACC.”

“FAM can only punish the offenders after the court has sentenced them.”

Authorities will have to closely look at betting and get the “real fixers” because only eradicating the “runners” is not going to make much impact. New ones are recruited and “business” will go on as usual.

Authorities will also have to keep tab on former players who have been implicated as many still may have links to syndicates and could be “runners” as they have easy access to players.

FAM president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has to give his personal attention to the “cancer” to ensure it is removed completely.

Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat, who was appointed FAM’s integrity committee chairman last Saturday, has his plate full and needs to act fast and furiously to make a difference.

TONY is a sports journalist with close to four decades’ experience and is passionate about local sports.

He can be reached at
tmariadass@gmail.com