Football is one of the most important sports in Malaysia, and anyone who knows a bit about Malaysian football will know how much of a key figure the president of the Football Assossiation of Malaysia (FAM) is.
So it came as a shock to fans when Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Idris announced he was leaving his post at FAM, slightly less than a year into his four-year term.
The football enthusiast made his latest announcement on Thursday (Mar 15) via the Facebook page of the Johor Southern Tigers, a football club which he owns.
“Ever since I took up the post of Football Association of Malaysia President, I have restructured local football, lured in sponsors to help contribute to football in the country and prepared a long term plan for the local football with the co-operation of LaLiga,” he wrote.
He went on to list several milestones accomplished during his short tenure, including the financial stability of football teams in Liga Malaysia.
However, he said that the Malaysian national team’s recent drop of three spots on the Fifa world ranking was “a very big failure”.
“With that being said, I think it is time that president of FAM leave football. Thank you for everything and it has been an honour to me to serve Malaysian Football. Good luck,” he wrote.
The Crown Prince, who was elected FAM president at the end of March 2017, had hinted of his impending departure in January this year.
In his earlier comments, the prince stated that he hope there would be a “superman” who could replace him in 2018 or 2019.
But it seems the prince’s wish to leave the FAM will not be as straightforward as he hoped.
Shortly after his announcement, FAM secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin responded with an official statement to express his support for a Tunku Ismail leadership.
Datuk Hamidin said he was shocked by the prince’s statement, adding that he believed the statement was made only out of “frustration” with netizens’ comments on the performance of the Malaysian team.
“There’s no need for Tunku Ismail to step down because of them. Since he became the president on March 25 last year, FAM have [sic] grown by leaps and bounds,” he wrote in Malay.
According to The Star, the FAM official also said that executive members were required to submit official letters when resigning, and that the committee “has the right to receive or reject it”.
“The FAM exco and I fully support the leadership of Tunku Ismail and we want him to remain as FAM president,” he was quoted as saying.
He wrote that it would be “ridiculous to lose a president who is so committed in bringing back our football to its former glory,” The Star reported.
“FAM may lose some of our sponsors and I can’t see anyone qualified to take his spot. Others in FAM have the same opinion as me,” he added.