BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Looking at the pedigree of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) presidential candidates list, one could be forgiven for mistaking it for a page ripped straight from George R. R. Martin's fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, also adapted as HBO's Game of Thrones, as the three candidates are all royalty of Malaysian states.
The first candidate is the incumbent, Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, who has held the post since 1984, and also the current Asean Football Federation (AFF) president. The past few years have seen him come under intensifying criticism from the fans for allegedly being out of touch with the fans and modern football administration. However the increasingly unpolular president is most glaringly criticised for his failure to take Malaysian football to the next level. Under his presidency, the Malaysia national football team have only captured the AFF Cup once (2010), the U23 SEA Games football gold medal three times (1989, 2011, 2013) while never qualifying for the Asian Cup on merit.
The second candidate is the crown prince of Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah, who is currently the deputy president of FAM and the national field hockey association's president. He is considered unproven in football administration, and rumours are saying that the crown prince is nominated for this post to continue his father's legacy in FAM, although he is seen as the most viable candidate for the post by the footballing fraternity. However it must be noted that under his presidency, the Malaysia national hockey team managed to qualify for the hockey world cup for the first time since 2002, and won a silver medal in the 2010 Asian Games, their best ever result in the competition.
The remaining candidate is another member of the royalty, Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, the crown prince of Johor who is also a distant blood relation of the above candidates. Tunku Ismail took over as the Johor FA president in 2012, and has since reformed the management of the FA and the administration of the two Johor teams, bringing in various local and international stars. He is also seen as the reformist candidate among the three, and a dissenting voice in the Malaysian football administration fraternity, as he has repeatedly clashed with FAM. However he has also displayed the tendency to meddle in the management of his teams, quick to let go of off-form players and head coaches, depriving the sides of much-needed stability, and has had actions taken on him, his management team and the players for misconduct.
So what say you, Malaysian football fans? Which candidate would you like to win the post of FAM president, this 25 May? The incumbent, the legacy, or the rebel? Feel free to leave comments if you have any other opinions.
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