‘It was FAM that withdrew from hosting FIFA congress’

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PETALING JAYA: The Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) decision to withdraw from hosting the 2017 FIFA Congress was due to advice and suggestions from the government.

FAM Deputy President Afandi Hamzah stressed that it was not FIFA which revoked the right to host the congress which would also serve as a platform for the selection of the 2026 World Cup host.

“We sent a letter officially on July 25 about the withdrawal and the matter was verified by FIFA on Aug 9.

“The decision was based on advice from the government due to security concerns, among others,” he told reporters after the FAM Executive Council Meeting here today.

Media reports had emerged that FIFA had stripped Malaysia’s right as there were no guarantees on travel visas for Israel, besides FAM internal issues which resulted in four national players withdrawing and the claim by Johor Darul Ta’zim owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim that corruption was rife in FAM.

Last Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the home minister, had stated that the decision to withdraw from hosting the congress was to avoid the country becoming a high-security risk.

Meanwhile, another FAM deputy president, Mokhtar Ahmad, said FAM was now scrutinising the formula proposed by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on the nation’s football development programme.

“We are encouraged to cooperate with the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) but we already have our own programme and ‘blueprint’, which is now in the process of implementation. We are in the process of selecting the right people for the job.

“We had a meeting with the NFDP two days ago on this matter as they also have their own development programme for youths aged 9 to 17, while FAM is taking care of the elite development.”

Asked on the allegation by Tunku Ismail, Mokhtar said FAM, via its secretary-general, Hamidin Mohd , had come out with a decent answer, but the allegations continued.

Also discussed during the meeting, he said, was the preparation of the SEA Games 2017 squad under coach Frank Bernhardt.

However, he said it was still undecided whether there would be a full centralised training session considering the status of the players who have contracts with their own states and clubs that play in the M-League.