Consequences of Malaysian devil-may-care attitude

Manchester United FC are keen on playing in Malaysia but the Asian Football Confederation are saying no because it will clash with the Asian Cup. "So, how did we end up with this mess?" asked D Raj in The Star, before blaming Malaysia. "Let's examine the facts. Four years ago, Malaysia bid for – and were granted – the right to host the Asian Cup ... The host job came with a caveat – you may not do anything to jeopardise the success of the Asian Cup. You know, like hosting an English Premier League team or having the Arsenal and Juventus youth teams over for a championship.

"Malaysia, meanwhile, was giddy with the euphoria of celebrating its 50th anniversary, and when the Manchester United offer came along, they jumped at it. But the AFC remembered the fine print. They shot off a letter to the FAM telling them not to concentrate on the Manchester United match. Remember, we have an agreement, they told the FAM. That was in November of last year. The FAM made all the right noises. Never fear, they said, these are two different events and never shall the twain meet.

Then, wham! The Manchester United match is scheduled smack between the semi-finals and final of the Asian Cup. Yes, the final is in Jakarta. But where do you think the hearts and souls of the EPL fans in Indonesia will be? And if Indonesia are not in the final, boatloads of our neighbours could be on their way here. ... So much for trying to revitalise football in the South-East Asian region.

"They are being called heartless but one's heart does go out to the AFC. After all, it was someone on the Malaysian side who messed up with the scheduling. As always, it was the Malaysian style of doing things, a devil-may-care attitude, if you want. We just go ahead and do things, and to hell with the consequences. And now that the consequence has come home to roost, the Devils match may be no more. And we start blaming others. That's how it's so often done.

"Back in 2004, the FAM even had to compensate fans when they had to postpone the FA Cup final between Terengganu and Perak. They had scheduled the Cup final on the day the AFC Youth Championships started. And what's more, Malaysia were hosts then, too. Any wonder then that the AFC are really teed-off?"