My heart goes out to the family members of those on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Haresh Says, as published in Mailsports today.
Images of team officials and players arguing on the sidelines followed by claims of assault in the tunnel at Larkin Stadium on February 1 have been grabbing the headlines recently.
There was hesitance by certain quarters to name those involved during half-time of the Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) against T-Team after several players and officials claimed Johor FA president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, who is also the Crown Prince of Johor, was in the tunnel.
In a Super League match on February 7, Pahang’s Jamaican player Damion Stewart claimed he was subjected to abuse by JDT Argentinean imports Luciano Figuero and Pablo Aimar.
It is now the final week of March, almost two months since both incidents took place. Yet, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) disciplinary board have yet to discuss these incidents. Why the delay?
High profile cases?
Apparently both cases have been dubbed “high profile” and that the board would have to call “many witnesses”. One would understand that a decision needs to be made based on verified facts. However, the board must also realise the legal maxim of “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Many would like to know what exactly transpired in the tunnel. There have been plenty of claims — from cameramen saying they were threatened not to record while in the tunnel to T-Team player and officials lodging four police reports over the episode. It remains unclear the extent of police investigations into the matter.
However, in sports every individual is equal — royalty or commoner. Incidents of players and officials subjected to threats, verbal or physical, must be attended to immediately. Rules and regulations which govern a particular sport cover the welfare and well-being of the athletes and officials. That must be upheld.
Fans are equally interested to know how FAM would handle this matter. The national body seem to be quick when it comes to penalising those who light up flares in the stands but tend to be diplomatic when it comes to officials and players.
What about hockey?
Football is often placed under the microscope. Some tend to continue harping about the “good old days” while others tend to whack the sport for it promises “hits” and “likes”. It is a topic that never runs out of season.
But what about another sport which we are good at — hockey?
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) can count its lucky stars that it is not subjected to such scrutiny compared to its counterparts in FAM. Ask MHC president Tengku Abdullah Shah, who is also FAM deputy president, and he would surely agree.
MHC still owed teams — subsidies and prize monies — since last year and this was discussed extensively in last week’s column. The official programme book of the 23rd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup had printed inaccurate Malaysia and Australia flags on its cover, as highlighted on the back page of Sunday Mail.
The national hockey team were whacked 6-2 by Australia on Saturday and 8-3 by the Aussies in the final at Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh. Some may tend to overlook the scores given young players we fielded and that Australia are the world’s best team. Perhaps hockey fans tend to be more rationale. Had the football lads suffered the same fate, they would have been crucified the next day.
But they are two different sports. Why so hard hitting on hockey, the defenders may say.
We value the contribution by our football and hockey teams. They have done the country proud on many occasions in the past and we should not easily forget that. The same can be said about badminton and athletics.
At the same time, we cannot brush aside the incompetency of certain quarters which have been a stumbling block to the progression of the respective sports. Let’s try not be defensive.
Let’s go back to the basics: those who shine must be honoured, those found guilty must suffer the consequences.
HARESH is editor (investigations and special projects) of The Malay Mail. Banter with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HareshDeol