“The incident at the Larkin Stadium is a serious issue. When I came to know that (T-Team’s) assistant coach Azlan Johar and player Khairan Ezuan Razali swore on the Quran (on Monday), it just elevated the issue to a whole new level of seriousness. It becomes something that we can’t brush aside,” said Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference after officiating the ISN-UPM Sports Science Governed Sports Leadership Empowerment Series at the National Sports Institute, Khairy explained that from an Islamic perspective, the act of swearing is very serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
He wants the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to act fast to investigate this incident based on accounts from all witnesses.
“I will support whatever decision made by the FAM as long as it is based on justice and is not biased. No one should be given immunity. Whoever committed the offence must be punished. If there is a strong case, the perpetrator must be held accountable,” said the minister.
Khairy believes that if FAM do not act on the matter, their credibility, together with the credibility of Malaysian football, will be in jeopardy.
On Monday, T-Team’s Azlan and Khairan swore on the Quran before Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, all the players from T-Team, the Terengganu FA and the press, that the Larkin Stadium tunnel fiasco actually happened.
Commenting on the rising trend of crowd hooliganism, Khairy said there are supporters who are just passionate but there are certain groups who have emerged as hooligans, emulating what they see happening in foreign leagues.
Khairy has suggested to FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin that the FAM security committee set up greater safety measures for upcoming games, including working closely with the police and making arrests if necessary.
“We cannot allow our stadiums to be taken over by hooligans. Football in Malaysia is a family sport. People take their families and kids to the stadiums. We need to stop it now and we need to enforce rules and regulations,” he added.
Regulations, like not allowing fans to bring in flares and fireworks, should be enforced across the board. The perpetrators need to be arrested when such incidents occur, regardless of whether it happens within or outside the stadium, he said.
“One concern here is crowd psychology. It has the same dynamics as demonstrations. A small crowd of hooligans will usually cause other people to be influenced and join in. FAM must take this seriously,” said Khairy.