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This morning I read an article in the local newspaper on the economic benefits to be accrued by Malaysia if she were to host the prestigious World Cup. Infrastructurally, according to the writer, we could. We only have to build, again according to him, four more FIFA-approved capacity stadiums. Wow! Malaysia and its people will be the focus of the world for 31 days of that only God knows year. I can imagine how the faces of our countrymen, women and children and our music being broadcast to the world and the logo “xxxx FIFA World Cup: Malaysia“, being constantly paraded to over 700 million global audience! How proud will we all be?

I was carried away reading the article till I came to the last point, which I was sure a writer worth his salt would write this with his tongue in cheek, I quote, “Personally, however, the main reason that I would like to see Malaysia host the World Cup is that it allows the host nation to get a free entry into the tournament!” Ha! Ha! Ha!, I really laughed my heart out.

Look, we are ranked 147th in the world by FIFA even North Korea ranked 105th was thrashed by seven goals by that great soccer nation, Portugal (ranked 3rd) recently at their group game at the FIFA 2010 South Africa World Cup! What more Malaysia with its current deplorable state of soccer development where politics and hereditary personalities take centre stage, and between them manage to retard all the progress made over 30 years ago; we would go down by 20 goals, virtually one goal every five minutes of the game. There would be no stoppage time as our players cannot run fast and cannot keep the ball at their feet. They will simply be overwhelmed by the like of the Uruguayans.

Moreover, those participating nations have really worked hard to gain entry into the most-watched tournament in the world. Each has to defeat other nations to do so. And Malaysia gaining a free entry just because it is hosting the Cup? Oh, Please!

The automatic entry of the host nation South Africa has seen it being, infamously, as the first host nation in the history of the World Cup ,which has failed in the group matches to advance to the last 16. Remember though, South Africa managed to beat troubled France 2 to 1 at their last game, with France unceremoniously placed at the bottom of the group.

Gosh! I wouldn’t dare watch the game if our Malaysian soccer team played at the world stage. The humiliation would kill anyone with a bad heart!

We just cannot develop soccer in Malaysia at the moment as simple as that. There are just no genuine and inspiring personalities to move the sports. Many ideas are suppressed at the level that matters. Things are “pronounced” rather than “discussed” and talented people are stopped from being where they should. The FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) posts are good every four years for those officials to benefit travelling internationally on other peoples’ expense.

It is pathetic to see a TV advertisement recalling Malaysian soccer team qualifying into Moscow Olympics in 1978 (which we did not participate anyway due to the boycott of Afghanistan invasion by the Soviet Union then). We were then ahead of the Koreans and the Japanese, but now look at what is happening. We are left behind and those two nations have moved by quantum leaps and even manage to be in the round of 16 games at the current World Cup in South Africa.

With a proper and consistent programme which includes development of soccer in schools, proper nutrition and exchange programme with soccer nations like Germany, England and perhaps Argentina as well as scouting for talents, we may be able to improve our “software”. We should aim at producing talented soccer players who can be accepted to play with international clubs like Ajax, AC Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea. Most of the exceptional players playing at the World Cup also play at the club level.

We have no problem with buying and building as I am sure our hardware are easy to be enhanced to suit the FIFA’s requirements. Our main problem, as everyone knows, is the “eroded mentality” which is pervasive and gorging out at the very heart of soccer development in this country. In short, Malaysian football is badly in need of resuscitation and mental revolution. Real sad.

Politicians and hereditary personalities should not be involved in sports development and management. They should only be patrons to lend some kind of prestige to the respective sports bodies and that the government must have a continued commitment and the political will to support and not interfere with the technical areas of the bodies concerned while waiting for the sports to be established and later sustained by the public.

Currently we are in the vicious cycle of “no good players, no good games , no good crowd and no good money”. And cases of corrupt players and officials have also nearly killed a beautiful sport.

Our people seem to love soccer/ football and they support the various teams competing at the World Cup. Well, what do we expect? We have to enjoy life haven’t we? By the way I support Argentina to be the 2010 World Cup champion and my better-half is rooting for Germany, unfortunately one of them have to go at the quarter final when they meet on 3rd July. Both teams are 99% strength and skill and 1% luck and one of them will have to leave the competition early due to that 1% element.

Lionel Messi the Argentinian striker is a joy to watch

The tagline of one of the current World Cup TV advertisers is ” Every four years the world comes together to stand apart”. How apt! But Malaysia, soccerwise, does not have the necessary attributes to stand apart, not in my lifetime anyway.

So Malaysia hosting the FIFA World Cup? Give me a break.

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