What FAM has done right in recent years

Goal looks at the few good calls made by the Football Association of Malaysia in the past few years
For local football fans in Malaysia, the act of bashing and criticising the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for the organisation's inadequacy is almost a favourite pastime. They can hardly be blamed, when FAM often makes it too easy for themselves to be lambasted by coming up with misguided and misprioritised decisions in the administration of the game in this country.

But it has to be said that FAM, to their credit, has made a few timely decisions that benefit the local fans and the game itself. Goal pride ourselves in trying to be as objective and as neutral as possible when reporting on the state of the game in Malaysia, not just to criticise when mistakes are made, but also to compliment when one is deserved (far and few as it maybe). So here is our list of the good calls made by FAM in the recent years.
Starting off the list is the most recent announcement made by the FAM, regarding the 2013 Merdeka Cup. Admittedly, the Merdeka Cup; one of the country's oldest football tournaments have lost some of its lustre, especially with the decline of the national team's ranking, and the fact that the matches are not considered official FIFA matches that win teams ranking points. This year's tournament sees its return after a five-year hiatus, and even then it only features under-23 teams from the Southeast Asian region, including Ong Kim Swee's Harimau Muda. Thus when fans balked at the initial MYR38 price tag for the group stage matches, FAM this week wisely promised that the price will be reviewed and lowered. Fingers are crossed.
After cancelling a series of international friendly matches with Singapore for friendlies with Australian and Japanese club sides, much furore was raised by the local press. The FAM then showed that they are capable of listening to the fans and media's grouses when they immediately organised two 'A' friendlies against China and UAE, to be played before the 2015 Asian Cup qualification resumes. For those who doubt that these two matches will ever take place, the matches have already been listed on the official FIFA website.
The K. Rajagobal that took the national team to its first ever AFF Cup in 2010, and the man who is still, against all logic, the national team Head Coach, seem to be two different men altogether. Gone is his aura of deep and unfathomable wisdom that was showcased by his foregoing of senior players for his stable of under-23 players, now replaced with a very noticeable sense of cluelessness that is evident in his over-reliance on his non-performing usual suspects, and a string of losses against obscure club sides. The media was rightfully raging again at the fact that the man was still allowed to helm the team; and FAM caved under the pressure to decide that Rajagobal's contract will not be extended beyond this year.
We at Goal are stadium-going football fans first and foremost, and for us nothing kills the match atmosphere than the blaring of vuvuzelas. The instrument (it is a musical instrument as much as snuff videos are entertainment), first unleashed onto the unsuspecting football fans around the world in the 2008 Confederations Cup, somehow found its way to these shores and inside our stadiums during matches. For a while, going to league matches meant having to tolerate the offensive, obnoxious and monotonous bleating of these two instruments that were blown by errant fans. But to the fans' delight, FAM took it upon themselves to ban the use and sales of airhorns and vuvuzelas during matches in the country sometime in 2012. And they even enforced it, and the sounds of the two instruments are hardly heard anymore nowadays. It is now comfortable again for the fans to insult the opposing players and the referee, and call them names.
The meeting that produced the decision to lower ticket prices for the Merdeka Cup also saw FAM promising to amend its infamous Article 88 of its constitution. The statute had been criticised as a tool of not just silencing dissent within the FAM ranks, but also in killing the careers of promising and vocal football administrators who want change in how the game is being run, which further sets the game back a few more years behind. The strict punishment of prolonged suspension has claimed Kelantan Football Association President Annuar Musa and the late Kedah Football Association president Ahmad Basri Akil, both considered visionary football administrators in the country, among its victims. Thus, criticism on the statute is very much warranted. The announcement of the proposed amendment is still very much recent, so no details have emerged.

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