The Malaysian soccer striker Safee Sali could be the first Malaysian millionaire footballer when he signed a two-year extension of his contract with Pelita Jaya, an Indonesian Super League side. Who says that there is no money in soccer for Malaysians?
Picture from New Straits Times website
With this development, Malaysian soccer players should open their eyes and realise that if they are world-class players, the reward would be there for them. Sadly, that reward may not be in Malaysia as our league is still struggling and our level of salary and rewards are still low compared even to other leagues in South East Asia.
To make thing worse, there is now concern that corruption could be tainting our local soccer scene again. If this epidemic is not checked immediately, the spectators would not be flocking to watch matches when they perceive the results have been decided off the field. Without huge followers, not many companies would be willing to sponsor soccer teams and this would cap the salaries of our soccer players.
Although the performance of the Malaysia national team has significantly improved in the last few years, I am not sure whether the overall soccer standards in this country has gone up considerably. The format of the league keeps on changing and policies are changed frequently as well. Only this year we have foreign players again after they were not allowed for a while. Even so, we don't attract the best of them because the level of benefits that we could offer would not attract better players.
More need to be done on the management of soccer as a whole and teams in general. Does the system that we adopt allow the best persons to be appointed on boards and committees of soccer related outfits? Do our soccer teams live on revenue generated through their performance or they rely on grants and financial support obtained through other means?
Unfortunately, even in sports, real performance counts. Nobody can fake success and achievements. Unless soccer in Malaysia fundamentally change, it would not be reading for talented players to stay back because of nationalism alone. Eventually, they will realise that for the talents and skills that they have (only relevant for great players) there are team beyond our shores which would reward them significantly above our local rates.
Is this a start that Malaysia will lose talents in soccer or other sports as well?