Malaysian Politics and Soccer: Yobbo Culture

July 29, 2011

Malaysian Politics and  Soccer: Yobbo culture

by Terence (July 28, 2011)

COMMENT The just completed visits to Malaysia by three English Premier league teams provided disconcerting reminders that sports occasions lend themselves just as easily to exhibitions of nastiness and tribalism than to more comely qualities, as George Orwell once cautioned in his writings.The news that FIFA may sanction the Football Association of Malaysia because of a complaint by Chelsea FC over the way local fans jeered their Israeli-born midfielder Yossi Benayoun will put a crimp on future FAM plans to have the top English clubs stopover in Kuala Lumpur on their off-season tours to the Far East.

FIFA has made the fight against racism in soccer a major plank in their campaign to promote the game. In recent years, the world soccer governing body has handed down heavy sanctions against clubs and countries that were deemed to have violated their strictures against racism.

Malaysian fans were reported in the British left-wing paper Guardian to have jeered every time Yossi Benayoun touched the ball in the match between Chelsea and Malaysia at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last week.

After the wide coverage given by cable news networks to Bersih demonstration on July 9, many foreigners must be wondering what’s with Malaysia these days. The wearing of yellow T-shirts is not allowed, peaceful demonstrations are discouraged and their organisers harassed, and now soccer players from Israel who turn out for touring English Premier League clubs are not welcome in Malaysia.

YouTube video clip

Matters on the sports front are more than a little awry where the image of Malaysians is concerned following a clip that was uploaded on the video sharing website YouTube.

It showed an incident that occurred at a training session of the touring Liverpool FC which was held at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil in preparation for the game against a Malaysian selection that was scheduled for July 16.

liverpool vs malaysia bukit jalil 2 1A local fan of Manchester United, wearing the No 10 jersey of the club’s star player, Wayne Rooney, was surrounded while sitting in a section of the terraces occupied by fans of Liverpool wearing the strip of the Merseyside club.

The MU fan was harangued to “Buka, buka” (“Take off your shirt”) by the yelling Liverpool-supporting mob.

Stadium stewards, in a seeming effort to mollify the Liverpool fans, persuaded the MU fan to take off his strip and put on Liverpool colors. The fan, clearly shaken, acquiesced to taking off his MU jersey but ignored stewards’ suggestion that he go the full distance in MU apostasy. Fortunately, the fan came to no further harm than that to his self-esteem as an MU loyalist.

The video clip of the incident, since being uploaded on July 14, has toted up views in access of 660,000, enough to qualify as an item of major interest on the net.

This depiction of soccer tribalism puts Malaysian fans in a bad light. Coupled with the jeering of Yossi Benayoun, the incidents portray our fans as capable of the uglier forms of sports tribalism and anti-Semitism.

Distinction blurred

Jew-phobia had not been a marked trait of Malaysians until the Yom Kippur war in October 1973 when college and university students held demonstrations at the United States Information Service and at the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Since then anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Malaysian society, particularly after the introduction of cable news TV in the 1990s, as the uglier effects of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seized in the 1967 war in the Middle East were beamed round the clock into homes.

liverpool vs malaysia bukit jalil 1But it was only in 1983 that the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism became blurred in the public mind when the government caused a planned stopover in Kuala Lumpur by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of the renowned Zubin Mehta, to be cancelled.

A composition entitled ‘Jewish Rhapsody’ was on the orchestra’s repertoire for its KL performance. The government demanded that the item be dropped; the orchestra refused and local musical esthetes were deprived of their classical fix.

In the broader public’s mind, the distinction between anti-Zionism, which is a political position against an imperialist ideology, and anti-Semitism, which is a racist stance, was blurred.

If the government could not make that distinction from way back in 1983, one cannot expect soccer louts nearly three decades on to appreciate the difference and thereby refrain from jeering Yossi Benayoun in the colours of Chelsea FC.

Leave politics out of sport

Now, that inability to make the distinction will cost the FAM some vis-à-vis FIFA. This would be dismaying to Malaysia’s founding Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was a pioneer of the FAM and the Asian Football Confederation.

liverpool vs malaysia bukit jalil 3 2In 1974, as president of the AFC, he stood against Arab pressure to expel Israel, a founding member, from AFC, just as he had had earlier stood down pressure from the People’s Republic of China to expel Taiwan, another founding member, as a pre-condition of the communist nation’s entry into the continental body.

In both instances, the Tunku was adamant that sports should be exempt from politics. Otherwise, he held, there would not be much point to the former’s pristine pursuit.

A saddened Tunku, a lover of sport especially football, lost the argument and was forced out of the AFC presidency.

On the evidence of Malaysian football fans’ behaviour in the match against Chelsea, it could be said that the Tunku’s progeny have become none the wiser for the sporting principles he strove to uphold in his lifetime. The Tunku’s present-day legatee, Razaleigh Hamzah, should waste no time in getting the campaign to revive the Tunku’s values on the road.

5 thoughts on “Malaysian Politics and Soccer: Yobbo Culture

  1. Now teams such as MU, Chelsea etc will think again about visiting Malaysia. By booing Yossi Benayoun simply because he is an Israeli is poor in taste. It just shows our lack of maturity and class. We got serious issues here in the homefront like ISA, deaths at MACC, police abuses etc etc but we prefer to be some busy body and get angry with Israeli and its policies.
    JJx, yes, we lack maturity and are unable to separate sports from politics. It has got to do with how we were educated. Yossi is a skillful player with class of his own. He does not deserve the boos from Malaysian soccer fans. When he was in Kuala Lumpur he was our guest and we Malaysians generally respect and protect our guests in our country, not hackle or insult them.

    I am not afraid to admit I admire the Jews for what they are, having endured thousands of years of persecution in Ancient Egypt, Europe and elsewhere. I know a lot of Jews and interacted with them when I was a student at GWU. They are an extremely smart, frugal, resilient, and hard working people. While I am very sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, I also recognise the right of Jews to their way of life and culture. Some may disagree with me. But that’s okay.–Din Merican

  2. “Now we have rowdy soccer politicians. What is causing the present Malaysian malaise? Any takers to this question”.–Din Merican

    Let me give attempt a simple explanation. UMNO/BN has this inclination (more pronounced since Mahathir’s premiership) to ‘fanning a hate ideology’. Hate the Jews. Hate Singapore. And at home hate the ‘pendatangs’. Hate the Opposition politicians. Hate the non-Muslims. Hate Bersih. Hate those who demand equality with the Malays. Hate those who want to abolish the NEP.

    The Malays have been “so zombied” by so much hate that they are unable to distinguish between right and wrong and the exhortations of their religion.
    Mahathir was and is the no 1 Jew Hater in this country.

    For my part, I admire the Jews. Let’s be honest, the world owes a great deal to the Jews for their contributions to mankind. Look at this list and no Islamic country, which too have benefited from them, can compete with the Jews.

    Levi Strauss: Jeans (1873)
    Maurice Levy: Lipstick (1915)
    Lazlo Biro: Ballpoint Pen (1938)
    J. Robert Oppenheimer: Atomic Bomb (1945)
    Edwin Herbert Land: Instant Photography (1947)
    Denis Gabor: Holography (1948)
    Peter Carl Goldmark: Long Playing Record (1948)
    Robert Adler: Television Remote Control (1950)
    Edward Teller: Thermonuclear Bomb (1952)
    Paul M. Zoll: Defibrillator (1952) Cardiac Pacemaker (1952)
    Gregory Pincus: Contraceptives (1950s)
    Charles Ginsburg: Videotape (1950s)
    Gordon Gould: Laser (1958)
    Stanley N. Cohen: Genetic Engineering (1973)
    Jason Lanier: Virtual Reality (1989)
    Sigmund Freud: Psychological innovations
    Edward Land: Polaroid Camera
    Abraham Stern: Adding Machine
    Charles Adler: Traffic Light
    Leo Sternbach: Valium
    Emile Berliner: Microphone
    Morris Michtom: Teddy Bear
    Benno Strauss: Stainless Steel
    Abraham Levis: Hot dog bun
    Joe Friedman: Flexi-straws
    Niels Bohr: Work on the structure of the atom.
    Emilio Segre: Nobel Prize for his part in the discovery of antiprotons.
    James Franck:Laws governing the impact of the electron on the atom.

  3. “..only in 1983 that the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism became blurred in the public mind”

    Huh, there was a definite time-line? I always thought that it was due to inbreeding and linear cause-effect thinking. I guess i was wrong. To subvert and disembowel Israel, the first idea is to pin, plant or label Orwellian 1984’s “Un-Person” to all Jews. Then work backwards into specifics, like all Israelis are Jews – not realizing that the Jewish diaspora is truly well dispersed and that there are a significant minority of Israeli Muslims. It was the earliest manifestation of what later became a Fuddy Truly Malaysian marketing tool called “Franchise” and “Branding”. Genocidal fomentation always start with such puerile methods. It happens all the time and though all the ages.

    The fact that it has spilled onto the soccer pitch is NO cause for concern, since the ordinary Malaysian can never (officially, at least) set foot on the piece of real estate called Israel. Strangely, most Arabs can. It is because of this, that the zealots of dubious parentage reacted so negatively.

    Yet, as soon as anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are well established, jumbled up and mashed together – the authorities will move surreptitiously to hire these brilliant, irrepressible Jews to advise them in all sorts of things, from economics to social policies. Why? Because all Jews are also Circumcised, follow Kosher Rules and know how to survive to prosper in a hostile environment.

  4. Oh, i forgot! The Jews also own, trade, sell and money launder all sorts of things. The item of utmost concern to us now, is an alleged piece of carbon allotrope the size of a ‘cicak’ egg worth US $24 million. This piece of awesome Jewelry has been categorically denied ownership by One FLOM, whose name was inadvertently mentioned in the Customs manifest.
    This crime could have been only be conjured up by a Azerbaijani Jew who probably has connections with Paris Hilton’s Malaysian carpet muncher.

    The next 1Malaysia scheme would be for the Malaysian soccer team to practice with diamond studded boots on graphite footballs. This will hopefully improve further our current rankings in FIFA which are ‘blinkingly’ brilliant. It does not matter, if the players are perpetually concussed or their coach who was ‘Datukfied’ inadvertently recently. Style mesti ada!

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