The Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim has hit out at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for pardoning former footballers indicted for bribery, arguing that it takes away the deterrent against future graft in the sport.
"Did the FAM consider the long-term effects on local football because if bribery is so easily pardoned, how will it serve as a lesson to the new generation of players?" he posted on the Facebook page of the Johor Southern Tigers.
Earlier, players indicted of bribery were subject to a lifelong ban from the sport by the governing body. However the pardon now opens the door for them to return to participate in the sport.
Tunku Ismail argued that FAM should have been steadfast in their original stand and not be bothered by the plight of the guilty offenders.
As things stand, the prince fears that players will now not be afraid to take bribes as they now know that even if they are caught, they can be pardoned and allowed to return to the sport later.
"Football is currently heading towards a glorious era, but their action seemingly allows bribery to set foot in the sport again because players will no longer be haunted by fear, knowing that they will eventually be forgiven someday," he said in the post.
"Being corrupted is already bad enough but outright corruption in the open is beyond words," lamented the prince, well-known for his strong views about the state of Malaysian football and caustic criticism of the FAM.
Yesterday FAM pardoned several players who were left in the cold for over 23 years after being caught in a corruption scandal in the mid-1990s.
The Malaysian football governing body decided that it was time that the footballers were freed from the charge and the ban lifted from them, so that they could return to the pitch as footballers or coaches.