Monday, March 03, 2014

It was very embarrassing

UNWARRANTED: Hamidin calls for fans to stay calm after hooligans disrupt friendly with Philippines

FA of Malaysia (FAM) general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin has called for fans to remain calm following Saturday's incident during the national team's friendly with the Philippines at Selayang Stadium.

   The match was suspended for eight minutes in the first half after a group of fans known as 'Ultras Malaya' lit flares and threw smoke bombs onto the track and pitch. They also sang derogatory songs and unfurled a banner insulting FAM.

   The national body had known beforehand that this disruption could happen  as some fans, via the social media a few days before the match, had threatened to cause problems.  It is learnt that FAM had two emergency meetings with enforcement officers prior to the match but despite the tight security, some fans managed to smuggle banned items into the stadium.

   FAM could face sanctions from the Asian Football Confederation for failure to provide adequate security.

   "Our president Sultan Ahmad Shah is very upset with the incident. Security was tight but fans still managed to smuggle (in) flares and smoke bombs. It is tough for enforcement officers as our stadiums are not football-specific venues," said Hamidin yesterday.

   "I believe fans had smuggled the banned items through other sections of the venue. We had covered all areas in terms of security. Yes, AFC officials had witnessed the incident and we could be punished for it."

   According to sources, there could be an 'unseen hand' behind Saturday's unsavoury incident which was planned to force Sultan Ahmad Shah to resign before the May 25 elections.

   "I do not want to speculate. We will investigate and see what we can do to avoid such incidents in the future. As for the fans, I hope they can compromise and behave during matches.

   "It was embarrassing for Malaysian football as the incident occurred during an international match. Our counterparts from the Philippines were also surprised as all they wanted was a good game here," said Hamidin.

   Hamidin confirmed that no arrests were made on Saturday.

   Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that FAM and the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) must come out with a holistic approach to enhance security checks during matches nationwide to avoid any banned items from being brought into stadiums, as well as to curb social ills in football.

   He said the FAM must be firm in enforcing penalties on the culprits and review the current punishment meted out for certain offences.

   "It is a must to avoid any hooligans from bringing in any flares, smoke bombs and firecrackers during matches, which can clearly affect the players' concentration and safety as well as that of other spectators," Khairy said in Georgetown.

   "I have been tolerating all these (burning flares, smoke bombs and firecrackers) before, but the incident which occurred on Saturdayduring our national team's friendly match with the Philippine, was out of control."

   Khairy said he had asked the police to submit a report on the matter to the FAM for further action.
   "This is an unacceptable action by some hooligans ... it disturbed the game and the safety of others in the stadium," he said.

The Malaysia-Philippines friendly match at Selayang Stadium was suspended for eight minutes in the first half. Pic by Goh Thean Howe

Read more: It was very embarrassing - Soccer - New Straits Times

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