KUALA LUMPUR (July 22): Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman wants every state football team and club to release those players who were called up to represent the country at the 2018 Asian Games which will begin next month.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) today, Syed Saddiq said the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), as a national football body, should play a role in handling the matter.
He said FAM, as the national football body, should take a very firm stand on the matter as the issue of releasing players was often a nightmare to the national head coach in preparing the team for any championship.
"I understand the issue is an old issue that is repeated every time FAM is selected to face major championships, not just for football tournaments but also for sport festivals such as SEA Games and Asian Games.
"I think that if FAM chooses to participate in any major championship, it should take a firm stand on such matters. What's more, state football associations are FAM's own affiliates, "he said.
Syed Saddiq said each player selected to represent the country should see the selection as an honour besides reminding state associations that KBS and the Ministry of Education Malaysia (KPM) had made huge investments in shaping these players.
"For me, every state or club player picked to the national squad should see it as a honour because apart from being chosen to take Malaysia’s name to the international level, it also indirectly increases the player's value.
"KPM and KBS have invested heavily in shaping these players until they succeed in becoming good players and chosen to represent the states. Hence, they (players) have a responsibility to each of those who have been involved in moulding them to become great footballers today, "he said.
In the meantime, he did not hesitate to call all the parties involved to find a solution if FAM failed to manage the issue well.
"Any FAM decision at the central level is also a states-level decision as affiliates and should be respected. If this understanding does not happen, it would be better if FAM did not offer to take part in the championships from the outset.
"Hence, FAM must resolve their internal issues on their own and do not involve the national interest in this crisis. If FAM is unable to resolve this, I will call for a meeting with all parties to find the best solution, "he said.
Yesterday, national Under-23 squad (U-23) national head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee hinted that the national squad might withdraw from the 2018 Asian Games following difficulties in gathering players.
According to Kim Swee, some teams are still insisting on not relinquishing their players despite the release of the list of 24 players last Wednesday on the grounds that the 2018 Asian Games (August 14 to Sept 1) clashed with the Malaysia Cup schedule.