It’s only been 15 days – and four matches – since the M-League kicked off, but already there are rumblings about the poor quality of refereeing.
Already two coaches – Sime Darby FC’s Ismail Zakaria and Armed Forces’ B. Sathianathan – are in danger of being hauled up by the Football Association of Malaysia’s (FAM) disciplinary committee for criticising the referees during their teams’ recent Super League matches.
Ismail had voiced his displeasure after referee Mohd Nazmi Nasarudin awarded a questionable penalty in their 2-1 defeat to Kelantan in the opening match on Jan 18.
Sathia, meanwhile, criticised referee Suhaimi Mat Hassan’s error-filled performance after his side were knocked out 2-1 by Sime Darby in the first round of the FA Cup competition on Jan 21.
Last week, FAM disciplinary committee chairman Datuk Taufek Abdul Razak had instructed the rules and regulations committee to conduct a probe on the two coaches to see if they had breached Article 18 of the FAM disciplinary code.
Article 18 states that players and coaches cannot speak to the media without prior consent from FAM.
If found guilty, Ismail and Sathia face a minimum four-match suspension and a maximum two-year ban.
Surely something must be wrong with the standard of refereeing when you consider this: four red cards and 69 yellow cards have been brandished by the referees in just three rounds of Super League matches. That’s a total of 73 cards in 18 matches!
That works out to about four cards per game.
One match – a Super League clash between Sime Darby and Pahang played at the Selayang Stadium on Saturday – saw eight yellow cards being flashed, believe it or not!
Perhaps, Sathia and Ismail could have gone through the proper channels to voice their displeasure but one can’t just ignore the statistics either.
Ismail, who has yet to be officially charged with criticising the referee, said that he would lodge a formal complaint, together with video evidence, to FAM on the poor standard of refereeing in Kuching.
“It’s not a case of sour grapes ... we are not complaining because we lost to Sarawak,” said Ismail on Thursday.
“I accept my team’s defeat ... but the quality of refereeing is so alarming. We had two of our least aggressive players in the team getting sent off for dissent ... I find that very strange.
“I hope FAM will be more open to criticism. We are criticising because we want the standard of refereeing to improve ... it’s not a personal attack.”