FOOTBALL match-fixing is rearing its ugly head, and it cannot be ignored for it will kill the enthusiasm of the beautiful game if left unchecked.
I salute the newly-elected Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim’s holistic approach and commitment in his fight against match-fixing and to safeguard the integrity of the game, with assistance from stakeholders.
Tunku Ismail’s willingness to work with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), police and state football associations to combat match manipulation has yielded results.
Recently, three footballers from Malaysian Indian Sports Council-Malaysian Indian Football Association (MISC-MIFA) football club were detained by MACC for alleged links to match-fixing. They allegedly received between RM10,000 and RM30,000 from bookies.
FAM, MACC and the police are working together to combat match manipulation through the five pillars of FIFA’s integrity initiative — prevention, risk management, information gathering, investigations and sanctions.
Match manipulation has no place in football.
For prevention to be effective, the football community must collaborate in a concerted and cohesive manner.
This can be done by enhancing the exchange of information and best practices, overcoming loopholes in legislation, improving legal and judicial cooperation, and ensuring that administrative systems with appropriate and effective legal means are established.
Additionally, training programmes for players, officials, referees, including the top brass of football associations, should be carried out.
We are seeing winds of positive change in FAM under Tunku Ismail, who has issued a stern warning to competing teams in matters such as players’ salaries, match-fixing and hooliganism.
In the 1993-1994 season of the Semi-Pro League, nearly 100 players were nabbed for allegedly accepting bribes, with FAM banishing or banning them.
It is good to note that at least 12 players are on MACC’s radar for links with syndicates and bookies. No one must be spared in the war on graft in Malaysian football, without fear or favour.
FAM must persistently continue its holistic approach to curb the menace of match-fixing. The courts must seize the wealth and property that culprits amassed.
C. SATHASIVAM SITHAVELLU, Seremban, Negri Sembilan.