It’s a difficult issue to raise, but racism has again reared its ugly head in Malaysian football.
Alarmingly, it seems to have become rampant on social media and Selangor coach B. Sathianathan is not one to pull his punches over it.
After seeing his side held by Perak 1-1 in the Super League encounter at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday, one would think that the highlight would be the match, but the former national coach did not hide his feelings when one of his players was targeted on social media.
The player in question, K. Prabakaran was allegedly called “keling” by some social media commenters, and Sathianathan was faulted by some fans that he only picks players of his skin colour.
“I am happy for Praba because he did well today, but on Facebook, I was told that I choose my own ‘bulu’ (skin). This term came from an ex-player, ” said Sathianathan during the post-match press conference.
“I want to ask these people, is it wrong? The way these commenters write these things is like they have not gone to school at all.
“We are independent for 62 years, going 63, but there are some people still using unpleasant terms. Do you call these people fans?
“I lived in a Malay village, mixed with the local folk and I’ve never heard them use such words.
“The way people insult us these days, I wonder if they really went to school. These terms are hurtful, ” vented Sathianathan.
He reminded fans that during Selangor’s glory days, the team were filled with players from many races, and that was how unity was fostered.
However, looking at how things have deteriorated, Sathianathan is one man who can’t contain his disdain over the antics of some.
“You tell me, who do I have in the leftback position? I have Praba, and I asked for one more player, but I did not get one.
“Don’t tell me I am going to draft in the player from Akademi Mokhtar Dahari (Azrin Afiq Rusmini), ” said Sathianathan.
“He is not ready yet, and I can only play him in the last 10-20 minutes of any game. You have to bring him slowly into the game, not kill him immediately.
“I have another leftback, his name is Tamil Maran. Again, people will say he is my ‘anak buah’ (pet child) because he is Indian.
“I am brave, and I do not care what others say. To see those words on social media, I should be reporting to the police.”
The game between Selangor and Perak was evenly contested, as both sides had their chances to kill off the game but were not clinical enough.
Perak striker Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi opened the scoring in the ninth minute after he shimmied past three defenders and unleashed a shot from outside the penalty box to beat Khairul Azhan Khalid.
The home team equalised in the 31st minute when Syazwan Zainon’s brilliantly lofted cross from the left was headed in by Nigerian striker Ifedayo Olusegun.
Both teams have four points each from two games.
Perak will take on Petaling Jaya City in Ipoh on Wednesday while Selangor travel to Kuala Terengganu to face east coast giants Terengganu.