FAM Presidency: The men who want to shape Malaysia’s football future

Four candidates have emerged in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) presidency race after nominations closed on Monday. FourFourTwo takes a look at the nominees, who have until February 20 to accept the nomination. 

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim

The Crown Prince of Johor – FAM’s biggest critic since 2013 – is just about everyone’s favourite for the post following the success story of three-time consecutive Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

The JDT owner contested for the presidency in the 2014 Congress but fell short of the support the departing Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah received. He has since insisted he would not contest again as he felt his love for the Southern Tigers meant he could not be impartial.

Tunku Ismail, however, could be open to being the national’s team advisor and has already been looking around for a new national team coach.

Football followers in the country – including several state associations – have repeatedly pleaded with Tunku Ismail to reconsider his decision and contest for the post again.

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Photo: Asiana.my

Khairy Jamaluddin

There have been questions of the Malaysia Sports Minister’s controversial selection, considering FIFA’s strict policy on governmental interference.

But there is unlikely to be any conflict as he would be elected by FAM delegates and there is already such a case of a government member being in charge of a football association, with Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko being the president of the Russian Football Union.

The 41-year-old, who FourFourTwo understands is keen on leading Malaysian football out of the doldrums, is also expected to obtain clearance from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Khairy has been among Najib’s loyal and trusted lieutenants and is expected to be given a bigger portfolio in the government in due course.

Khairy being FAM president could mean a greater involvement by the national body in the National Football Development Programme, a project which he prioritised since becoming Sports Minister in 2013.

Khairy, who once served as FAM deputy president, would not be the first minister to lead FAM as former Prime Ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Minister Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah were once presidents.

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Photo: Khairy Jamaluddin

Tan Sri Annuar Musa

Once an ally of Tunku Ismail’s, Annuar Musa is the only candidate to openly talk up his desire to be the next FAM president, but there is a growing objection following his involvement with Kelantan.

Annuar and Tunku Ismail are no longer in good terms and the two have been throwing barbs at each other in public over the past few weeks. Tunku Ismail even questioned Annuar’s credentials to be president.

Truth be told, Annuar has years of experience in football. The one-time Sports Minister was FAM deputy president until he was suspended for 30 months in 2012 for speaking to the press without permission.

He was also behind Kelantan’s success at the start of the decade, which was capped with the domestic treble in 2012. Their future, however, looks bleak due to a financial turmoil and the team even threatened to pull out of the 2017 MSL due to funding.

Kelantan have also been the biggest defaulters of unpaid salaries and compensation over the past couple of years, something that could come back to haunt Annuar’s aspirations.

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Photo: Kelantan

Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat

A name that only surfaced when Tunku Ismail publicly endorsed Aseh for the presidency, the former Putrajaya Corporation president is already a known figure in FAM.

Aseh has been serving FAM since 2011 as an appointed integrity committee chairman, whose primary role is to weed out corruption and match-fixing in Malaysian football.

Just how effective his committee has been remains anyone’s guess with Tunku Ismail himself alleging FAM of corrupt practices in the past.

Aseh, who previously served the government as the Home Ministry’s secretary general, met Tunku Ismail in December, leading to talks that the duo have struck an agreement on how to run Malaysian football. Tunku Ismail said he was open to be a royal patron in the same interview he endorsed Aseh.

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Photo: PPJ

Main Photo: JDT