FAM mulls matches in empty stadium

As published in Mailsport today


By Haresh Deol

KUALA LUMPUR — Its anti-hooliganism campaign has clearly failed as the FA of Malaysia (FAM) wants to introduce tough penalties including forcing teams to play in empty stadiums to combat rioting on the stands.
FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin said the Kuala Terengganu incident last Saturday had dented efforts to educate supporters about respect and sportsmanship and it was high time tough decisions were made.
Fans went wild at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium as they torched an ambulance and destroyed a police vehicle after referee Amirul Izwan Yaacob disallowed a goal by the home team in the FA Cup return leg semifinal, allowing LionsXII to play Kelantan in Saturday’s final.
“We are tired of talking and must make a stand now. We cannot tolerate violence and must put an end to this,” said Hamidin.
“There are provisions for the disciplinary committee to instruct teams to play in empty stadiums if fans are found guilty of rioting. I don’t want to talk on behalf of the committee but perhaps this is something we must seriously look at.”
Amirul’s decision to send off both Paulo Rangel and Gustavo Lopez for protesting his decision of disallowing Ahmad Nordin Alias goal added fuel to fire as fans went berserk after the match. They even hurled abuses and items at the match officials who were escorted by Federal Reserve Unit personnel to the dressing room.
FAM insiders said a review of Amirul’s decision showed it was a good call by the referee.
The M-League is no stranger to violence and had forced FAM to introduce the “Love Football, Stop Hooliganism” campaign February last year. Despite repeated calls to curb hooliganism, lighting of flares, smoke bombs and riots on the stands remain.
Said Hamidin: “We have young children and families enjoying matches at the stadium. Why should they be exposed to such threats while watching a match?
“We can only do so much but many fans don’t seem to listen. They too need to play their part.”

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