March 27, 2018
By Haresh Deol
FOR the first time since 1958, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) could see neither a royalty nor a politician occupying the top seat.
The country’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman served as president from 1958-1974 while his successor Tun Abdul Razak also led FAM from 1975 to 1976.
Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah held several ministerial portfolios during his tenure as FAM president from 1976-1983. The others were Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah (1984-2014), his son Tengku Abdullah Shah (2014-2017) and the Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Ibrahim (2017-2018).
Tunku Ismail’s decision to resign as FAM president, a year after winning the post uncontested, has paved the way for several FAM officials to eye the hot seat.
He singled out two names on Sunday – Datuk Yusoff Mahadi and Datuk Hamidin Amin.
Fondly known as TMJ, Tunku Ismail recommended FAM deputy president Yusoff to step in as the acting president until the 64th FAM congress on July 14.
He was then quoted as saying: “In my opinion, the most qualified candidate to lead FAM afterwards is secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, who has served Malaysian football for a long time.”
Unsurprisingly, Tunku Ismail made no mention about his other former deputy president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal.
But that does not mean the former politician is out of the race.
Several other names were bandied by the observers and fans. They include Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who is clearly busy gearing up for the upcoming 14th general election, and AirAsia supremo Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
Hamidin, as Tunku Ismail rightly pointed out, has clocked plenty of years as a football administrator.
The man served the FA of Selangor for umpteen years before becoming general secretary of the nation’s biggest sporting association.
Hamidin, without doubt, has also gained the “respect” of the majority of the affiliates (who are entrusted to vote in the next FAM president).
However, is he capable of luring potential sponsors to the sport?
In the past, sponsors would invest simply because FAM was associated with a member of the royal family or a politician.
While it is also the task of the newly rebranded Malaysia Football League to secure funds to run the M-League, FAM will need to impress its partners too.
This is the acid test that awaits those within Wisma FAM.
Given the fact Tunku Ismail will be Malaysia Football League chairman, he would naturally prefer to work with someone he is familiar with in FAM. And that would mean Hamidin.
Some fans also hoped the new president will not turn out to be a mere puppet.
They were those who pointed out that Tunku Ismail – despite his record of achievements in just 12 months – left FAM without being able to witness the national team win a single match.
While factually correct, the current state of football is due to the rot that took place over the years. Rome was not built in a day and thus it could take five, 10 or even the next 20 years for us to see Harimau Malaya be a force to reckon with in Asia.
Moving forward, the new FAM president will need to engineer a plan to ensure Malaysian football is strengthened from bottom to top. National coaches must be consulted at all times. State FAs must play their roles at the lower levels. Malaysian football is not restricted to just the Super or Premier Leagues.
The onus of injecting Vitamin Roar into the national team is not the sole responsibility of any one party.
The events that will unfold in Wisma FAM will set a precedent that anyone – regardless of status in society or title – can be entrusted and successfully be the custodian of Malaysian football.
To the new FAM president – just remember it’s a thankless job.
Also remember to respect the sport, respect the stakeholders and respect the fans. Be open to constructive criticism.
Let your work do the talking and you will be judged at the end of your term.
* Haresh Deol is a multi-award winning journalist. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter (@HareshDeol)