MFL to offer 'carrot' approach in solving club vs country dispute

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Malaysian Football League is willing to play the role of mediator in the long-standing club vs country dispute.


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Malaysian competitions organiser Malaysian Football League (MFL) is considering dangling the proverbial carrot as a solution to the long-standing call-up dispute between Malaysian clubs and the national teams.

While Malaysian clubs have generally obliged everytime their players are called up to the senior national team for tournaments and matches held during official FIFA dates, the same cooperation has not been extended as willingly to their age-level counterparts in recent years, as junior national teams are not protected by FIFA's compulsory call-up regulations.

The most-telling example is the difficulties faced by Malaysia U-22 and U-23 head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who in the past two years or so has had an increasing number of clubs reject his player call-up requests. 

Most recently, four clubs rejected Malaysia U-22 and U-23 head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee's request for five of their players to join the Young Tigers' preparations for the upcoming 2019 AFF U-22 Championship, necessitating last-minute call-up replacements.

MFL CEO Kevin Ramalingam on Monday said that the organisation is willing to play the role of mediator in the dispute, by offering benefits to clubs who cooperate with the national team set-up.

"The MFL secretariat will suggest ways for the clubs to support the junior national teams in the next MFL board of directors' meeting. Among the suggestions that we may propose is for the clubs to be rewarded with certain benefits for allowing the players to join the national teams.

"The benefits will be hashed out further, but one of them could be permission for them to register 35 players on their competitions roster, instead of the 30 now. We can't force the clubs, but from the side of the domestic competitions, the national team success is also important to us. When the national teams succeed, we too see an increase in support from the fans and sponsors.

"This suggestion requires the support of the clubs, as MFL's decisions are agreed upon by clubs who form the organisation," said Kevin in an interview with MFL's media unit.

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