It is no news that Malaysian football fans are unhappy with the state of football in this country and the way it is being administered by the nation’s governing body, the Football Association of Malaysia.
But a group of football fans in the country are now taking their criticism to the next level by banding together to form a movement that pushes for the reshuffling of the FAM, and for its President to vacate his post.
The dissenting fan movement ‘Presiden FAM Sila Letak Jawatan’ or PFSLJ held their second press conference with the local media, held exactly three months after the first, and they outlined their demands for the FAM President, Sultan Ahmad Shah to step down from his post and for the FAM itself to undergo a reshuffling process, backed up by five main points.
Afterwards, Goal.com took some time to speak with one of PFSLJ’s members and also spokesperson, Alfadli Awaludin regarding the movement and their objectives.
When asked about what PFSLJ has been up to in the three months, Alfadli responded: "We’ve used the time to observe FAM further for anymore wrongdoings, to collect more concrete evidence, and most importantly, we were waiting for FAM to respond to the allegations that we brought up in the first interview.
"They never did, unsurprisingly. Like I spoke earlier in the press conference, we take their silence as an admission that our allegations are true."
He also added that they had used the time to raise awareness among fans on the actual source of the dismal state of the country’s football; FAM itself.
"It used to be that everytime we lost a friendly or got knocked out of a competition, the fans would turn on the coaches and players, blame the tactics and the players’ lack of technique.
"But what they do not realise is that the coaches and players are merely the cogs in a flawed system; they are just doing what FAM requires them to do, with whatever limited resources that FAM has provided them.
"It is actually FAM’s failures as a football governing body that have impeded the growth of football in the country."
Alfadli then explained their plans for the future.
PFSLJ plans to submit a petition at the Wisma FAM in the future, although that action, from his experience will admittedly be futile.
"The President is too far removed from the realities of a sport that he is supposed to be governing, to change simply because of several signatures.
"We might just get the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) or even FIFA involved, once we are able to find more damning evidence."
Fan support for the movement has understandably been overwhelming, but from their observation, he also found out that curiously, many football administrators in Malaysia have only expressed their support for the reshuffling of FAM, but not for their call for the President’s resignation.
"Of course this might be misconstrued as them supporting the President, but I think this refusal to support the call for the President’s resignation might be more out of the fear to speak up against him. Not only has he run football in the country into the ground, he has also installed himself as a football despot," he said.
When asked to respond to the allegation that they are proxies for parties with ulterior motives, Alfadli explained that it is not true at all.
"This is all by fans, for the fans.
"We are first and foremost Malaysian football fans, and we are not doing it for anyone else.
"We are only doing this so that Malaysian football may improve.
"If we are backed by an external party, we would not have to hold this press conference at the Bukit Jalil sports complex food court, would we?
"Our supposed funder would surely have sprung for a better venue.
"But as it is, we can’t even afford to buy drinks for the journalists present," he said.
However, Malaysian football has made some improvements in recent years such as the 2009 and 2011 SEA Games gold medal, the 2010 AFF Cup win, and competing in the final qualification stage for the 2012 Olympics.
Are these achievements not enough for PFSLJ? Could it be that PFSLJ is being impatient?
Alfadli responded that there are indeed victories in recent years, but these are small victories for a President that has been in power for 29 years.
And he further responded with questions of his own; "Why are we still competing in the South East Asian level? Why aren’t we at least regular contenders at the Asian level? After we captured the 1989 SEA Games gold medal, why didn’t the same squad go on to qualify for the Asian Cup?"
There is also the issue that the SEA Games and Olympics football competitions are not official FIFA events that contribute to a country’s ranking points.
"No matter how many times we win the gold medal for these competitions, they won’t bring proper prestige as winning the AFF Cup or competing in the Asian Cup and World Cup do.
"FAM should stop thinking small, and start aiming for the continental competitions.
"And for them to have spent so much money, only to manage to win only regional competitions, that is definitely a failure on FAM and its President’s part," he continued.
Before the interview ended, Alfadli was asked on what Malaysian football fans could do to help their cause: "We as fans have our voices as weapon.
"We need to use it to put pressure on FAM to the point that they become uncomfortable, and have no choice but to do their job properly.
"Look at what happened to TMJ (the Johor FA president, who is also the Crown Prince of Johor).
"Not that we wanted him to be suspended for criticising FAM and it is not that we agree with Article 88, but the fans had asked whether FAM, at the very least, would be fair in meting out punishments to its members, so FAM was backed into a corner and had no choice but to punish him." he said with a smile.
But he also advised against boycotting the Malaysian Super League and the national team’s matches: "First of all, an empty stadium does not bother FAM the least bit.
"They still get paid their salary, even if the players and officials are adversely affected.
"That is basically what happened from the mid 90’s to just a few years ago after the nationwide match-fixing scandal.
"Secondly, the attendance in Malaysian stadiums is mediocre as it is, I don’t think that anyone will notice when the supporters are missing!
"And as supporters, can we abandon our teams to play without their own supporters cheering them on?
"We should know that we can disagree with the administration of our team, while still supporting the team itself.
"What we should do is we should attend more matches, and then put up banners and sing chants that criticise FAM during the matches.
"If everyone does this, they will not be able to keep ignoring us for long."