21 May 2022, Saturday | 03:54am

Covid quandary hits M-Cup


TEAMS who have reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup could end up disappointed as the tournament is now at risk of being cancelled.

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the Malaysian Football League (MFL) will decide on the fate of the tournament by today or tomorrow following the government's decision not to allow football matches to take place.

However, it could be too costly for the football fraternity to restart the tournament when the ban is lifted by the government as the contracts of players and coaches expire later this month.

Furthermore, teams have imposed cost-cutting measures to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the National Security Council (NSC) have postponed the Malaysia Cup indefinitely following the worrying rise in Covid-19 cases.

The NSC feels it would be too risky even to play in empty venues in states, not under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

The CMCO, which started yesterday and ends on Dec 6, covers the entire peninsula except for Perlis, Pahang and Kelantan.

It is understood that the FAM had submitted a proposal to the NSC to host the remaining matches of the Malaysia Cup in states not under CMCO through Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican recently.

However, it was rejected by the NSC as the top priority now is to break the Covid-19 chain in the country.

It has now become a problem for both the FAM and the MFL, who will likely face issues with sponsors if they call off the tournament.

The football fraternity, including the teams, will have to absorb additional expenses if the tournament is played after the CMCO.

FAM president Datuk Hamidin Amin said the national body and the MFL will discuss the implications and decide on the fate of the tournament soon.

"We had sent an appeal through the Sports Ministry and was given the feedback today (yesterday).

"We will be looking at all factors and will decide in one or two days.

"I do not want to comment further. We will sit and discuss it before issuing a statement," said Hamidin.

It is understood that the MFL had proposed venues in Kelantan and Pahang for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final to the NSC.

Earlier, the MFL had cancelled the FA Cup and had offered the AFC Cup slot the winners of the Malaysia Cup.

If the Malaysia Cup is called off, then the AFC Cup slot will go to Terengganu, who finished third in the Super League.

Ismail said although matches are behind closed doors, there is still a risk as it is a physical sport.

"The contact is more dangerous than normal in football. If you compare it to a singles match in badminton, there is no contact," said Ismail.

"The NSC feels it's quite dangerous (to allow Malaysia Cup to continue). For the record, all competitions in states under CMCO, except for Perlis, Pahang and Kelantan, are not allowed.

"So, the Malaysia Cup will be postponed. I hope the fans will be patient."

Source: New Straits Times


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