Malaysia to pull out of Suzuki Cup over Rohingya persecution? AFF warns Fifa sanction

Many including, Penang's Parti Amanah Negara have demanded Malaysia withdrawal from AFF Suzuki Cup.

Darren Lok
Malaysia won their opening encounter against Cambodia Reuters

Asean Football Federation (AFF) general secretary Datuk Seri Azzuddin Ahmad has voiced concern over Malaysia's potential withdrawal from the ongoing AFF Suzuki Cup and said the country could face heavy Fifa sanctions if the government asks Football Association of Malaysia to pull the team out of the eight-nation tournament.

There have been demands from various sections of the Southeast Asian country urging the government to withdraw the national football team from Suzuki Cup over Myanmar's alleged violence towards Rohingya Muslims.

Around 86 people from the Rohingya community in Myanmar's Rakhine state have been killed and 30,000 have been displaced due to the growing tension between the country's military and the civilians from the region, according to the AlJazeera.

Malaysia's Penang's Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) has also reportedly hit out against Myanmar and said the country wants to take a stand against "ethnic cleansing" and support human rights by pushing for the Tiger's withdrawal from the tournament.

Notably, Malaysia have already played two games in the tournament in Yangon, Myanmar and are scheduled to fight for a spot in the semi-final against the host country on Saturday. If the Tigers decide to pull out, Myanmar will be automatically handed a 3-0 win and will join Vietnam in the knockout stages.

With the cabinet ministers expected to take a final call on Friday, Azzuddin Ahmad has warned the nation against pulling out from the tournament saying that a possible Fifa blanket ban could hamper the football scene in Malaysia.

"Please don't bring football into this. There are many other ways that Malaysia could show their protest if they wanted to," Azzuddin Ahmad was quoted as saying by FourFourTwo.

"AFF is upset that some quarters – including Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin – have spoken of the possibility that Malaysia will withdraw from the Suzuki Cup.

"It will be seen as government interference and Fifa does not tolerate this.

"A blanket ban on football by Fifa will disrupt many things. Football in Malaysia will not be able to go on. There will be no football at the SEA Games and even Malaysian clubs will not be able to participate in any competition."

FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin also voiced against the possible withdrawal and said the final call should be theirs even if the government directs them to take the decisive step.

"I do not agree with the idea of pulling out. The government should think of other ways to protest and not make football the scapegoat," Hamidin said.

"Ultimately it is FAM's call whether to withdraw or not. If the government decides so, our executive committee will have to make a decision whether to abide by it or not."