BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The Malaysian FA (FAM) has urged Malaysia fans not to boycott the coming Airmarine Cup, as some of them are planning to do.
The decision to price the open seating tickets to the four-team invitational friendly tournament, which will be held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, at RM35 (around USD9) has been met by the home fans' ire, as previously open seating tickets to Malaysia's friendly matches only cost RM20.
When met by Goal early last week, FAM Deputy President Datuk Wira Yusoff Mahadi explained that the tournament is organised by external parties, while the RM35 price is for the admission to both matches on each of the two matchdays.
But on Monday evening, their most vocal fans, the ultras group Ultras Malaya announced their decision to boycott all four matches of the tournament, which is set to kick off on Wednesday, including those involving Malaysia, citing their disgust at the way FAM is purportedly allowing other parties to generate profit from the national team.
On the following evening, FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam issued a response to the supporters' plan, stating that the association needed to generate income using the national team and the external party-organised Airmarine Cup.
"FAM has received RM300,000 from Proevents (events organiser firm and Airmarine Cup organiser) for the rights to organise the tournament, and the money will be spent on operational costs, team bonuses as well as on the national U-16, U-19, womens and futsal teams.
"In comparison, FAM lost money on the three friendly matches it hosted and funded itself last year, where the open-seating ticket prices ranged from RM20 to RM30. The gate receipt was not enough to cover the match organising fees.
"The cost of organising the Airmarine Cup is fully borne by Proevents, while the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualification (Group J, which is hosted by FAM in Shah Alam and Malaysia U-22 are involved in) is partially funded by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). For this reason, open seating tickets to Malaysia U-22's matches in the qualifiers (which will take place around the same time as the Airmarine Cup) can be priced at RM20," explained Stuart.
He also urged the supporters to stay loyal to the Harimau Malaya at a time when the team needs to improve their ranking position, in order to receive better seeding in the next round of the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers, while adding that the association is always willing to discuss matters with any supporter groups.
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