With the dawn of the latest instalment of the Malaysia Cup looming on the horizon, football coaches now fear the worst as the Malaysian Football League’s (MFL) insistence that teams with Covid-19 cases should forfeit their games may potentially lead to some unscrupulous tactics and cover-ups of infections.
In the latest Malaysian football news, some coaches have claimed that the latest directive by the MFL could lead to some teams falsifying the coronavirus test results of players just so that their team may continue to play in the tournament — widely regarded as the second biggest annual tournament in the country.
The Malaysia Cup Has Arrived With A Dark Shadow
This concern has come following the postponement of several M-League matches earlier this year due to confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the players that were required to be in quarantine for 14 days.At the moment, our sports clubs have had to train their players in relative isolation and to try to work around the massive budgets that come with maintaining a sports bubble. And it certainly comes as no surprise that many teams in the country are crying afoul of the MFL’s unfair decision to forfeit matches as they have invested a lot to play this season.
However, on the flip side, it is also understandable that any extension of this season could lead to some issues concerning player contracts as some of them are scheduled to expire on 30 November.
Some coaches have also publicly decried the 14-day mandated quarantine for the entire team in the event one or a few of their players are stricken by Covid-19. Indeed, this ruling is something that the authorities should keep in review as it is harming the local football industry.
Another coach also described the current Malaysian football guidelines as outdated and archaic. They contrasted this fact with the fact that most international football leagues have already opened up venues for fans and adapted to living with Covid-19. In Europe, only the players that have Covid-19 will have to quarantine. Their clubs are exempt from quarantine and can still play competitive matches.
But in Malaysia, entire clubs have to be quarantine regardless of the number of positive cases that are detected among their player’s — even if all of them have been vaccinated and are in a sports bubble.
Addressing their concerns, MFL chief executive officer Stuart Ramalingam has said that the strict measure was in place to ensure that the Malaysia Cup ended on schedule by 30 November. He also added that the MFL does not intend to extend the season beyond the end of November. Furthermore, the Malaysia Cup will also be on a break from October 4th to October 12th in order for the national team to participate in international matches against Jordan and Uzbekistan — fueling the need to be on a strict timetable.
Earlier in the week, the MFL also announced that the 2021 Challenge Cup and the 2021 M3 League would both be cancelled following the Covid-19 pandemic. The Malaysian Football Association had previously cancelled the Youth Cup, President’s Cup, and Malaysian Premier Futsal League for the second time in a row due to the ongoing pandemic.
Last year, the Malaysia Cup was cancelled after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. And this year’s Malaysia Cup champions will also qualify for the next season’s Asian Football Federation Cup.
The first group stage for the 2021 Malaysia Cup is scheduled to begin from 25th September and the rest of the matches will be played up until 10 November. This edition of the tournament will feature 16 teams that were drawn into four four-team groups.