Thursday, 30 December 2010
What a sweet feeling this is; that Malaysia are CHAMPIONS!
But while we savour this moment - with the Prime Minister having also declared Friday 31 December as a national public holiday - excuse me for seeming like a killjoy for mentioning this. No, this isn't done to dilute the joy that true Malaysians are feeling - only a dastardly anti-national would do something like this.
However, let this be mentioned now while we are united and focused on this matter of ensuring continued success for the national team after decades of being in the doldrums - those very few and rare successes notwithstanding. BEWARE: The football bookies will be back!
And there will be players and officials who will sell their souls, their team and their supporters for a fistful of ringgit. It has happened before, and it's likely that it will happen again... unless we slash them immediately the moment they pop up.
Remember those harrowing days in the mid-90s when player after player - including household names - were detained for their collusion with bookies and for match-fixing. It was also one of the main reasons why Malaysian football had declined. Do we want this to happen again?
Here's why the bookies will likely resurface: ironically, it will be because of the national team's latest success. Right now there is renewed interest among the public in football - there is now a much better appetite to follow the sport at all levels in the country. Next season, there will be more zest for the national league and Malaysia Cup. Each state will put in more effort to gain glory, and we the fans, will follow the matches even more closely.
And this vastly increased interest will also result in more punters putting down money - LOTS of it - betting on this and that. Betting, in itself, doesn't directly affect those involved - the players and the other non-betting fans.
However, with so much money floating around, there will be people who will use every means to get their hands on as much of that as possible. They will look for ways to fix results to their advantage. And the best way is to get a few key players to do their bidding... for a share of the loot, of course. Then the cancer will spread, with more players wanting some of the action too, and soon enough we'll be back to the bad old days.
So here's a reminder to those involved, while we celebrate this return to where we should be: Be quick and decisive when this malaise rears its head again. No more of the denials of 15 years ago. No more of wanting to protect players or officials. No more talk and endless warnings and threats "to take stern action": when the bookies and corrupted players and officials resurface, shoot them out of the water IMMEDIATELY!
Okay, let's go back to savouring and enjoying this moment... of again having a national football team that we can be proud of; that can make us HOPE and DREAM. SALUTE TO MALAYSIA!
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