With the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) facing a crisis amid shock international retirements and allegations of corruption, president Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah needs to rise to the occasion, writes Vijhay Vick...
A captain has two options when in charge of a sinking ship – abandon it or hold his ground and attempt to steer it to safety, whatever the consequences.
In March, FAM announced Tengku Abdullah would reconsider his decision, but nothing has been done since
That has been a dilemma facing Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tengku Abdullah Shah, who has provided little insights since abruptly announcing his resignation way back when the Malaysians suffered their heaviest ever defeat, a 10-0 hammering against United Arab Emirates (UAE) last September.
Ten months have passed since Tengku Abdullah announced he would delegate all duties to deputy-president Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah, who was then to serve as acting president until fresh elections were held.
A timeline of one year was established but no resolution has been reached following the executive committee’s (exco) desperate and continuous efforts to keep the Crown Prince of Pahang in FAM.
In March, FAM general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin announced Tengku Abdullah would reconsider his decision, but nothing has been said or done since.
It certainly does not help that the FAM held two consecutive exco meetings – in February and May – without their president, even though discussing Tengku Abdullah’s resignation was an agenda at both meetings.
Tengku Abdullah and the FAM should not wait any further, especially after the recent attacks on the association by vocal Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
On Monday, some of the country’s football writers gathered at an electric-bike launch in Kuala Lumpur as Tengku Abdullah graced the function and was expected to attend – and address – the post-event press conference.
It was a chance for Tengku Abdullah to discuss matters, but it all came to nothing once more as he declined to participate at the last minute, thus disappointing the eagerly awaiting press.
Though Tengku Abdullah has taken questions in recent weeks, none have been in Kuala Lumpur, where the vast majority of football writers in the country are based. Therefore, nothing was reported on Tengku Abdullah’s future as president.
Tengku Abdullah had addressed questions on prevalent matters such as the international retirement of four key players – Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, S. Kunanlan and Amirul Hadi – and Tunku Ismail’s claims he possesses a flash drive containing details of corruption within the national body, but his responses have been anything but strong.
Last weekend, Tengku Abdullah was quoted by local daily Utusan saying: “Ask the person who has the flash drive … I have nothing to say, everyone has already spoken.”
As for the retirements, Tengku Abdullah commented they were a big loss, but stopped short of responding to Ismail’s claims that the quartet was fed-up with the national body.
Tunku Ismail said in one of a series of statements posted on JDT’s Facebook page: “They [the players] are playing for a president who never attends training or meetings. Playing for a leader who doesn't even know their name and existence. Playing for an organisation that couldn't care less when they get injured. I stand with the players.”
FAM, as a unit, simply dismissed Tengku Abdullah’s lack of presence as a secondary concern, saying he also had responsibilities in the state of Pahang. Tengku Abdullah has yet to defend himself against these accusations.
FourFourTwo understands FAM are trying to figure out their best option to deal with the crisis at hand without burning bridges
FourFourTwo understands FAM are trying to figure out their best option to deal with the crisis at hand without burning bridges with the Southern Tigers, who are the country’s leading club at the both moment domestically and in continental competition.
The FAM’s top brass meet again in August and there couldn’t be a better time for Tengku Abdullah to step up and show his leadership.
To tackle the issues at hand and find a resolution, whatever that might be.
FAM must act on the infamous flash drive and not allow themselves to be held to ransom. If cleaning up Malaysian football is the sincere desire of all, FAM must push Tunku Ismail to reveal its contents and report them to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, if required.
Further silence and a lack of action by Tengku Abdullah aids nothing and assists nobody.