The show must go on, says Karim on FAS crisis

KUCHING: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah wants the crisis facing Football Association of Sarawak (FAS) resolved so that Sarawak remains in the Malaysian Football League.

Last Saturday, FAS announced that Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has denied Sarawak the licence to play in next year’s league due mainly to its failure to meet financial requirements and submit an audit statement from the previous FAS management.

This was followed by a response from the former president Datu Sudarsono Osman who asked the current leadership “not to blame others for your situation.”

Abdul Karim said it was “unhealthy” when the present and past leadership started to point at each other.

“I view (the FAS crisis) with concern and I hope that the problem be solved … let there be professionalism about this … if there is a problem about money, look at what is the problem, and if there is a problem of the statement not been audited, than try to audit the statement,” he said at a press conference in his Petra Jaya office yesterday to announce the Kuching International Bikers Week.

“I am not pointing finger to anybody … but to me football has to continue, we cannot put football aside.”

At the same time, Karim hoped FAS would highlight to FAM the high cost of the Sarawak team travelling to Pennisular Malaysia for away matches.

“I expect FAS to raise the issue (with FAM) in a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, to tell them that the FAS has to spend real big amount of money to  play away games in Peninsular Malaysia, compared to teams from Peninsular Malaysia, whch have to fly only to Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

According to him, FAS have to spend no less than RM50,000 for each away game, with Sarawak having to play at least 12 away games per season. He added that the FAS expenditure was about RM15 million annually.

“If FAM still want Sarawak or even Sabah be seen to be part of this (Malaysian) league for the sake of national integration, you (FAM) and the federal government have to come and support us and have compassion for us.

“We want to be part of Malaysia and you  also want us to be part of Malaysia, so help us, other wise it will be not good for the sake of national integration. And I believe this is a very fair request,” he stressed.

The Minister also appealed to corporate bodies to have compassion and assist FAS as part of their corporate social responsibility, adding that FAS receives the bulk of their funds from the state government.

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