Football is not a war zone – FAM condemn KL-Perak fans clash

In yet another incident of violence, Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Perak fans clashed at the Selayang Stadium after the FA Cup quarter-final second-leg match.

It was just over two years ago, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) launched its “Love Football, Stop Hooliganism” campaign.

Despite best efforts to promote a focus centred solely on football and create a family-friendly environment in stadiums however, it has failed.

In the latest incident, football fans on opposite sides turned to violence after Perak’s 1-0 away win against Kuala Lumpur (KL) at Selayang Stadium.

The win gave the Bos Gaurus a 2-0 aggregate win to set up a last-four clash against PKNS later this month, but the aftermath of the match was far from pleasing as the riot police squad was called in to ease the situation.

FAM deputy president Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah, who was among the office bearers on stage during the anti-hooliganism campaign launch in February 2014, is wondering what else the association must do to raise awareness.

“We came up with the campaign, took it to social media and introduced the campaign’s logo at the start of every match, but what has changed? Of course, we’ll keep thinking how to overcome this but we cannot do this alone,” he told FourFourTwo.

“We have to be collectively responsible. There is no doubt teams need their fans to cheers them on but football is not a war zone.

“It’s a sport and it should bring people together. Just like how the police need public cooperation, we need the fans’ cooperation in kicking hooliganism out altogether.”

In Selayang, Perak fans inside the stadium alleged they were pelted by stones from outside the pitch, later sparking a brawl that left at least two needing medical treatment.

While it appeared the visitors lured into retaliation, Perak have fans have been tangled in crowd violence on several occasions in recent times too.

Perak’s matches against Sarawak, Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and more recently Selangor have seen crowd trouble in and around the stadium – be it in Ipoh or an away fixture.

Last year, Malaysian fans found themselves under the spotlight during a World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia after interrupting and later causing the match to be abandoned due to a pyrotechnic ‘show’ and crowd violence. A small group of home fans also attacked the Saudi fans.

Similarly, Vietnam fans were attacked and left bleeding during their visit to Shah Alam Stadium in the 2014 AFF Cup semi-final first-leg.

“What happened yesterday was the same as our fans attacking the away supporters, but don’t equate this to Ultras Malaya lighting fireworks, smoke-bombs and such against Saudi,” said a fan, who requested not to be named.

“That was in protest of FAM’s administration. The fans were venting their frustrations at our state of football. But attacking opposing fans is just far from showing any sportsmanship.”

Photo: Football Malaysia LLP