Local football league unlikely to continue after MCO, says minister

Football matches are likely to be on hold even after the MCO is lifted with new SOP being drawn up on mass gatherings. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The government has announced football matches under the Malaysian League (M-League) may not continue even after the movement control order (MCO) has been lifted, as large gatherings will still not be allowed.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the present procedures on social distancing and not to allow any mass gatherings will remain even after MCO has been lifted.

“You cannot play football alone.

“There must be teams and so if there are two teams that brings the total to 22 people on the field,” he said during the daily Covid-19 press conference.

He further said unlike badminton, where you had one person on opposing sides, there would be physical contact among football players.

“So, based on the present standard operating procedures, we cannot allow football matches to take place,” he said.

This comes after a request from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) seeking the views of the NSC and health ministry on adopting an SOP so that the Malaysian League matches can be resumed once the MCO is lifted.

Ismail added that even after the MCO is lifted, certain rules on mass gatherings will remain, adding that the National Security Council was currently drafting new procedures to be enforced after the MCO is formally lifted.

“How long these new procedures will be in place will be announced at a later date as the NSC is preparing the SOP after MCO ends,” he added.

FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam had said the national governing body submitted the application to the government after Malaysian Football League (MFL) president Hamidin Mohd Amin, who is also the FAM president, and MFL chief executive officer Ab Ghani Hassan held a special meeting with Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican in Putrajaya yesterday.

“While FAM and MFL put the country’s health aspects ahead of football, we also need to cooperate to find a way for football to resume and that is why we want to get expert advice from the relevant parties,” Ramalingam was quoted as saying.

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