KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian supporters group have ramped up their protest against the arrival of English Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur for lucrative friendlies, urging fans to rip up tickets for the matches.
“Ultras Malaya” have labelled the May 27 Spurs fixture and July 24 Liverpool game against a Malaysian XI as “circus matches” and are angry at the disruption caused to their domestic league and World Cup qualifying preparations.
“Don’t buy the tickets, don’t go to the stadium,” the group said in a statement on Monday.
”The matches are simply held to make FAM (Football Association of Malaysia), the organisers and their cronies rich, so don’t let FAM and the organisers profit from this sort of nonsense.
“What’s the point? A win for Malaysia is unlikely, and you can’t be expecting the visitors to give their very best, like they play in the EPL on the TV, can you?”
Alfadli Awaludin, a senior member of the Ultras Malaya supporters group, told Reuters last month the Premier League giants would be better off playing each other in Kuala Lumpur rather than disrupting local football.
The Spurs match comes days after the Malaysian Cup final, less than two weeks before Malaysia try to win gold at the Southeast Asian Games in June, which is followed swiftly by the start of the joint qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup.
Ultras Malay said they expected the 80,000 capacity Shah Alam Stadium in Kuala Lumpur would not be full and that organisers would try to give out free tickets.
“When one of these free tickets come into your possession, do not be tempted to go to the match!” the statement said.
“Get as many as possible, and then SHRED THEM so no one else can get their hands on the tickets and go to the stadium in your place. And don’t even think about selling them to others!”
The president of the Malaysia Spurs supporter group said last month the team, and any from the English Premier League, should be welcomed in Malaysia.
“National teams rarely get such number of games in a year, so it makes sense for the national team to play so that more hours of ”competitive“ games are put on the clock,” Encik Syahizan Amir Abdul Wahab said.
”More games means more experience. It is also well-timed ahead of key regional competitions and qualifiers.
The Ultras, however, believe the FAM should concentrate on organising friendly matches for the national team, who currently sit in their worst ever position of 166th in the FIFA rankings.
”When you do not go to the matches and the stadium is empty, it will show to the organisers and FAM that circus matches have no place in Malaysian football.
”They will then have no option but to stop organising them, and start organising ‘A’ class international friendlies instead.
“An empty stadium during circus matches will also show interested European clubs, that Malaysian football supporters are not interested.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford