‘FAM must explain how it will use RM10m govt money’

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) enjoys another injection of funds from the government – despite the uncertain economy and budget cuts faced by the Youth and Sports Ministry.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, during the groundbreaking ceremony of the FAM headquarters at Presint 5 Putrajaya this morning, said the government would contribute RM10 million to the national body for football development.

FAM has received contributions from the government in the past despite its poor performances on the international stage.

Veteran sports administrator Datuk Sieh Kok Chi said FAM needs to clarify how it will use the money.

“It can be RM10 million or RM20 million … these are ad hoc contributions. How will the money be used? For promotions (at grassroots)? For more tournaments?” asked Sieh, a former national water polo athlete who later became a long-serving administrator at the Olympic Council of Malaysia.

“I think they (FAM) have to be clear about the money. It (RM10 million) is not a lot and can be finished in one year.

“Everybody wants plenty of money … (but there is) no sense of sacrifice or direction.”

Malaysian Olympians Association president Noraseela Khalid wondered how the government could justify the allocation.

“Why are we only concerned about football? Why not other sports? Yes, football is widely known. It gets plenty of airtime, but why did the government allocate (the money) only to FAM … perhaps there is a reason,” said Noraseela, a former national hurdler.

“We not only have three major events this year (Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and SEA Games) but there is also the 2024 Olympics. That is two years away. Why isn’t anyone talking about the Olympics?”

Noraseela said other things ought to be prioritised this year.

“FAM is one of the richest (sports) associations (in Malaysia). They have the leagues. There is also the National Football Development Programme.

“The development programmes for other sports have stopped.

“We keep doing the same thing over and over again,” she added.

Most sports associations resumed training and organising tournaments after two years of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Numerous lockdowns since March 2020 severely impacted sports and the monetisation of their activities.

There was no allocation in Budget 2022 for the National Sports Council’s elite programme funding. That resulted in 144 athletes not getting their contracts renewed.

However, the decision was lambasted by many and was even politicised. Critics argued that the government should shed its bloated Cabinet instead of axing national athletes ahead of major sporting competitions.

There are calls to reinstate the Rakan Sukan programme that saw corporations investing in sports associations in the 1990s and early 2000s.