Comedy, Chutzpah and Malaysian/Singaporean Sports Officials
“[it is not fair to single out Malaysia and Singapore]… match-fixing is a problem limited not just to Malaysia and Singapore football.”
There is a great Yiddish joke about the definition of chutzpah.
“Chutzpah is when a man murders his mother and father and then begs mercy from the court because he is an orphan.”
I thought about this joke and laughed very loudly when I read a story about Malaysian and Singaporean football officials complaining about me because I said match-fixing was deeply entrenched in their football ('Brisbane Times' newspaper article from earlier this week).
There are some events, some quotes, some stories in journalism that are so funny, so deeply comic that you could not make them up. The only thing to do when hearing about them is to laugh long and hard.
If there were a competition for Chutzpah – the sports officials of Malaysia and Singapore might win gold medals. (Sadly, you cannot say the same thing for the Malaysian and Singaporean national teams as their FIFA rankings have declined significantly since the systemic infestation of match-fixing in their leagues).
However, despite the humour this is a very important story for football-lovers around the world. Let us start at the beginning.
I like Malaysia and deeply respect its culture. Part of the reason why I like the country and its society is that when I was doing my research there I met very few people who did not openly speak about how its football league was corrupt. Tunkus, Dattos, (Princes and Lords), cabdrivers, journalists, players, coaches, fans, policemen, sports officials, fixers - men, women – just about everyone spoke about what a corrupted mess their sport was in.
This is pretty unusual stuff for Asia. Singapore, for example, is largely composed of officials who bravely say things like, “Lee Kuan Yew is brilliant” - but little else.
To be fair to Singapore, it is a much less corrupt country than Malaysia and the ruling political party (Lee Kuan Yew’s lot) have done a generally good of governing their society. However, the Singaporeans are often so afraid of open discussion that they have restricted, on occasion, The Economist and thrown political opponents in jail.
Here is the important truth that must be repeated constantly:
Singapore and Malaysian football is deeply corrupted. It is suffused with match-fixing. Not every game, nor every team is fixed - but fixing scandals occur so frequently that no one is surprised when, as happened earlier this season, an entire Malaysian team was banned for fixing their games.
Here is the second important truth that must be repeated constantly:
Many of the people who fixed football matches in Malaysia and Singapore have gone around the world and fixed games in dozens of different countries and leagues.
Repeat – much of the reason why the ‘match-fixing is not limited to Malaysia and Singapore’ is because of Malaysian and Singaporeans fixers.
Why is this important?
Because if you want to stop match-fixing in your own league, you have to stop it in its two principal source countries of Malaysia and Singapore.
This is not to say that there are not local fixers, but what they are often doing is hooking up with the Malaysians and Singaporean fixers. The local fixers fix the match (they know the players, the coaches, etc): the Malaysians and Singaporeans fix the gambling market.
Want to stop this current wave of globalized match-fixing?
Put pressure on the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to properly investigate and publicly prosecute the culture of match-fixing that permeates their leagues.
There is no one better to stop this wave of match-fixing than properly tasked Asian law enforcement arresting and putting on trial Asian criminals.
We do not need more conferences. We do not need more ‘education courses’. We do not need more committees studying the problem.
We just need one European politician or senior sports official from FIFA, IOC or UEFA standing up and saying,
“Malaysian and Singapore unless you put all the fixers that are operating in your country on a public trial and show that you are ready to seriously root out this problem, you will not be welcome in international sport.”
It really is that simple.
This current wave of globalized match-fixing can be beaten that easily.
Next week: The truly shocking story of why the Malaysian, Singaporean football officials and some Interpol and ‘anti-match-fixing experts’ do not want to discuss these facts.