Will FAM, MFL break silence over assaulted fan, non-payment of Satiananthan’s wages?

Silence is not golden. Especially not when a football fan is attacked during a game in Malaysia. And not when questions linger over money that is owed to a former national coach, who is now dead.

Yet, certain quarters seem to be comfortable side-stepping a shocking incident that took place during the FA Cup final at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium on July 22.

A 30-year-old fan claimed he was beaten up, allegedly by Johor Military Force personnel as Johor Darul Ta’zim played KL City FC in the final. The host team won 2-0 to lift the trophy.

Iskandar Puteri OCPD Assistant Commissioner Rahmat Ariffin, in a statement, confirmed that a police report was lodged by the victim in Kuala Lumpur.

There have been allegations of provocation by the fans, leading to the incident. That’s for the police and relevant authorities to investigate.

KL City FC, in a statement yesterday, “expressed profound sadness and deep regret” over the incident, adding it “maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of crowd control aggression” and and requested that the “relevant authorities make public their findings”.

Yet, there was not a single word by the national body or even the organiser – the Malaysian Football League.

Why? Is it because it allegedly involved personnel from the Johor Military Force – an independent and active military unit that comes directly under the Sultan of Johor, who is in line to be the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong?

The incident had nothing to do with the royal institution of course, and obviously, the Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Ibrahim – who is the owner of the winning team – would not want such an incident to tarnish the victory of his Southern Tigers.

But the silence from FAM is deafening.

FAM was quick to throw the National Sports Council under the bus when it came to the Malaysian contingent’s dismal outing at the Cambodia SEA Games in May. It was critical over Coldplay‘s Nov 22 concert at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

This time around, it is strangely quiet.

There’s also the issue of non-payment of salaries among M-League coaches and footballers.

While not new, questions have now emerged following the non-payment of B. Satiananthan’s salary (five months) while he was with Sarawak United FC. The former Harimau Malaya coach had to cut short his stint with the Sarawak outfit due to health issues.

On June 6, Satiananthan had reportedly said that he would initiate legal action for the non-payment of his wages. On July 18, he died following a battle with cancer.

So why should FAM or MFL get involved in a matter between an employee (Satiananthan) and an employer (Sarawak United)?

It is because the president of Sarawak United, Datuk Posa Majais, is also the FAM vice-president. As such, the national body must clear the air – as it has a key official involved with an organisation that has allegedly not paid wages, an issue that continues to plague the Malaysian football ecosystem, despite being labelled as “professional”.

For the record, several FAM representatives met Satiananthan’s son, Visnu Nair in a closed-door meeting at Wisma FAM yesterday.

As for MFL, this episode shows that its processes in vetting clubs before allowing them to play, is flawed.

Will Satiananthan’s family now receive the money? Or will it all be forgotten?

As guardians of the sport, the association must take into account all aspects, including the welfare of the stakeholders – officials and supporters. They cannot simply dribble around such issues, hoping not to get tackled along the way.

There’s no place for such un-sportsmanship like behaviour, and failing to uphold the spirit of respect and fair play.

For that, these officials deserve to be red-carded.