Featured, Football

An open letter to Ultras Malaya and FAM

Hey folks,

Not too long ago, I had a rather heated discussion with several acquaintances about the idea of watching local football at the stadium. I felt like a broken record player at certain points, berating their claims of local stadiums being unhygienic etc. They had a fair point, to a certain extent, but I was far more inclined to speak about the over-arching experience of soaking in the atmosphere.

But guys. After last night, I feel like a complete idiot. Had someone, who is just getting used to the rigours of local football, gone to the stadium under the pretext of buying my suggestion to do so, and gotten hurt, I would have never forgiven myself.

Photo Credit: MalayMailOnline.com
Photo Credit: MalayMailOnline.com


See I’m going to be very reasonable here, as I consider you guys an important stakeholder in Malaysian football. Like it or not, you folks have revolutionized the support for local football and the players would never trade your constant chants and cheers for anything else, during games.

But you crossed a line last night. Never mind the fact that you guys disrupted a football match – in which the national team was doing rather decently, to bounce back from the Abu Dhabi humiliation – you also put thousands at risk by stomping around like headless chickens, throwing flares all around the stadium. There are a few reasons as to why you messed up last night.

Let’s start with safety. A football stadium isn’t just a place where a random football game is played. Neither is it a place where only Ultras get to watch football. It’s also a location for families to spend time and bond. It’s also a place for travelling fans to experience a new culture of football. Your actions last night though, were incredibly selfish. While I may agree with the cause that you are fighting for, there is no obligation for other M’sian fans to jump on the bandwagon, which makes it highly unfair that they were put through last night’s impediments. Even if you claim to have run out of options, none of that buys you the right to opt for an action that could have physically harmed others.

Then comes moral high ground. You had this bit, until last night. Violence could push for action, but collective pressure is far more effective. People have been jumping on your bandwagon over the last few years. Your movement has been steadily gaining valuable traction and they’ve all come at the behest of FAM losing the moral high ground, with their sheer incompetency. That trend was set to continue, especially after the UAE fracas. All you had to do, was continue keeping the moral high ground. Not asking you to stay silent – your responses could have been entirely nonviolent. Every single time FAM messes up, your consistency in standing for your principles would have convinced more individuals to jump on your bandwagon.

I’m not the only one frustrated with you folks. A lot of them are. And most of these individuals were fence-sitters. And your actions has just convinced them to back off. To deal with an organization that has political motives written all over it, you’ve got to understand how they work. You losing the moral high ground, also means that FAM have got the ability to continue pinning its downfalls on your movement. Any suspension coming from FIFA, will now be blamed on you. Stadium seats were ripped off last night, and the funds required to repair them would come from taxpayers as well – yet again, making you the villain in a fight that’s bigger than this one incident.

Let’s assume your actions do pay off. What next? You’ll continue throwing flares every single time there’s an incompetent management? You’ll continue putting innocent individuals at risk? Is that the sort of draconian culture you’re looking to propagate, while at the same time demanding FAM to be far more progressive in their operation?

Think before you act, folks. Please.


Photo Credit: thenational.ae
Photo Credit: thenational.ae

Don’t you guys dare claim that last night’s events were unprecedented. We’ve seen them do it in the past, and even social media interactions suggested that there would be some form of protest during the game, especially after the 10-0 drubbing. Even a random stranger would be able to predict a hostile reception from the Ultras, so let’s not even get there.

Prior to the game, several individuals claimed that there would be additional security in the stadium, to ensure the safety of fans. What exactly does ‘additional security’ mean? If it’s purely numerical, then I wouldn’t be surprised as to how those individuals got away with flares last night.

A major part of your responsibility as the governing body, is to ensure that fans are offered a safe environment at the stadium. And while I condemn the Ultras’ decision to bring flares and firecrackers, they were able to do so, because if your inefficient security mechanism. If additional police officers were employed strictly at every entrance, could you then logically explain how those illegal items were smuggled into the stands?


An organization’s legitimacy is derived from its ability to function efficiently and fulfill all KPIs. How is it that you screw up, time after time, on a variety of things? Dollah Salleh did the honourable thing by stepping down. Tengku Abdullah’s decision to offer his resignation, however vague it may be, could be beneficial as well. But it doesn’t take an MBA aficionados to understand that the problems are far deeper than they appear. It’s deeply rooted into the system, the clauses that exists on the FAM constitution and the pandemic involvement of politicians within the leadership.

Your obsession with short-term success is appalling to say the least. Ironically, even that you struggle to execute properly. Shoddy youth development programs, training stints to countries that aren’t footballing powerhouses, constant shortcomings in international competitions, manipulating the sport to preserve political capital – I could go on and on. But we’ll save that for another piece, shall we?

What’s next?

Troubling times, indeed. FAM will be held responsible by FIFA – and rightly so as well. Condemn the Ultras as much as you want, but FAM’s failure in providing a secure environment, deserves criticism as well. Youth and Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin has threatened to suspend FAM, FIFA will most likely enforce some degree of punishment and local football will continuously be shoved aside by fence-sitters and gloryhunters.

That being said, the Malaysia Cup kicks off this weekend and it will serve as a timely distraction. But don’t get me wrong. We need to continuously address core leadership issues within FAM. Political leaders within the organization need to be held accountable for every single failure. The pressure – it needs to be there all the time.

But we certainly don’t need flares. And we don’t need violence.

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