PETALING JAYA, March 17 – “Don’t go boss, we need you!”
This was the passionate plea of the office bearers of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) who have asked Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim to remain as the president – a day after he shocked the football fraternity by quitting the top post.
FAM deputy president Datuk Mohd Yusoff Mahadi has reminded Tunku Ismail’s critics to look at the bigger picture of what he has contributed to local football rather than judge him solely on the national team’s position on the FIFA world rankings.
Under Tunku Ismail’s leadership, more money has been injected into the M-League through multi-million sponsorship deals with the likes of Telekom Malaysia and video-on-demand service provider iflix.
This has enabled M-League teams to enjoy multiplied annual grants from the FAM, meant to be spent on their main squads as well as development programmes.
“Before this, each Super League and Premier League team only received an annual grant of RM1mil and RM500,000 respectively,” Mohd Yusoff said.
“Within a year Tunku Ismail took over as FAM president, the grants have been increased to RM3mil for Super League teams and RM1mil for Premier League teams. Without the Crown Prince, this would not be possible.”
Vice-president Datuk S. Sivasundaram said he saw no other man more capable than Tunku Ismail to lead Malaysian football to greater heights.
Sivasundaram insists Tunku Ismail deserves more time to build on what he has already put in place.
“It’s not easy to find an individual who is so dedicated to football and is always looking for ways to improve day in, day out with ideas that are in line with the development of modern football,” said Sivasundaram.
“Only Tunku Ismail has the right attributes to hold on to the role of FAM president, not only for a year but for a long time coming so that we can all see the progress and results of his hard work.”
Another vice-president Datuk Abdul Ghani Hassan said Tunku Ismail still had so much to offer.
“I plead to Tunku Ismail not to resign. He has played a big role in transforming the landscape of this country’s football.
“He has not only fixed our country’s footballing structure in terms of increasing the value of the Malaysian leagues, but is still working hard to ensure Malaysia excel on the international front, starting with the hosting of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship this September and bidding for the rights to host the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship.”