These days I can't remember nothing good about Malaysian football. But there were plenty in the days of Soh Chin Aun, Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh, Arumugam and M Chandran. Who can forget the match where Mokhtar scored that spectacular goal against England B. Or when Soh Chin Aun decided to become a striker himself when Malaysia was trailing South Korea in Merdeka tournament. And in those days Malaysia was a power by itself in football. We even qualified for Olympics back then and I guess we were at par with South Korea while Japan was just another peanut for the Malaysian team.
Pic: The late Mokhtar Dahari with Diego Maradona
When I was a bachelor I used to follow the Selangor team. I never missed them especially when they played against Singapore. Well, Kuala Lumpur was just another part of Selangor back then and they didn't even have a team. When Selangor played against Singapore, it was not a football game it was a total war whether in Stadium Merdeka or in Kallang.
OK we were champions in the last SEA Games. But in the 70s we were not only champions of the SEA Games (71, 77 and 79), Malaysia was placed third in ASIAN Games and qualified for the Olympics in 1972 and 1980. And don't you forget, in Munich in 1972 Malaysia beat the United States 3-0. Try to tell this to the present FAM office-bearers.
Of course, back then I didn't know any name of FAM office-bearer. I never heard of FAM Disciplinary Committee disciplining office-bearers for talking in public. In fact, no one knew who was the FAM President, Deputy President or Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee but everyone from the age of 8 to 88 knew Mokhtar Dahari, Soh Chin Aun and M Chandran. Maybe FAM then was more interested in the performance of the country's football team than in internal politicking. So the FAM was more of a background player and organizer and the limelight was more on the country's stars than on the FAM office-bearers. But today the newspaper stories are not about the conquest of our football team but more about the misadventure of the FAM officials. They hog the limelight while the players remain obscure and unknown.
We have gone down so low that countries that we used to bully like Singapore, Thailand and worse, the Philippines no longer fear Malaysia. Japan is 20 years ahead of Malaysia and the last game played between the two countries, Malaysia was humiliated 4-0 in our own turf. And South Korea, they are way, way ahead of Malaysia. FIFA currently ranks Malaysia at number 152, Korea at 30 and Japan at 33. And even former minnows like Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand are better than Malaysia. Thailand is ranked at 139, Indonesia at 147 and Singapore at 150.
Annuar Musa is totally a different story. Before Annuar became the boss of Kelantan FA, Kelantan was never good enough to win anything though the state produces some brilliant players. A typical example is Dali Omar who later on went to play for an Australian professional outfit. After two years as KAFA President Kelantan won its first major tournament in maybe 50 years or maybe hundred years. Annuar not only injected professionalism into the team but he managed to organize the supporters into becoming the best supporters club in the country. The days when Kelantan supporters run amok after losing a game is now history. The Red Warriors as the team is known now operates a nice coffee house in Stadium Sultan Mohammad, Kota Bahru thronged by hardcore Kelantan supporters.
No wonder, when Annuar decided to stand for Deputy President post he became an instant favorite. He won but probably along the way he stepped on the toes of those people who used to do things their own way. I guess he became their problem when he condemned the poor way FAM organized their seminar last year and the way he voiced his concern about corruption in football. Yes, there is big money in football gambling. Not a week ago, police busted a football gambling syndicate in Kuala Lumpur. And do you know how much they made? A staggering 4 billion ringgit.
The case against Annuar is plain absurd. Article 88 of FAM disciplinary statutes which states that nobody other than the president or general secretary, or someone duly authorised, can issue press statements. The punishment, if found guilty, is a mandatory minimum two-year ban, fine optional. Well, FAM is not alone with stupid laws, there are plenty of them around. I can give you plenty of examples - like the one in Singapore that prohibits the sale of chewing gum or making it it illegal not to flush public toilet. But then again, we live in a modern world, if UMNO can do away with ISA why not FAM do away with Article 88. The statute escape route which says OR SOMEONE DULY AUTHORISED could be a face-saver for FAM but they chose to go on punishing Annuar. Maybe there were plenty of people who were not keen to see Annuar around.
The decision does not augur well for FAM. And it has not gone down well with the public. It has been condemned left and right by mainstream media, the public and most people who wanted to see a better football team for Malaysia. 84% of those polled by goal.com said the punishment as too harsh.
Will FAM listen to football fans? Or will they remain the same. The ball now is at their feet.