Malaysian football league fans, dubbed as the “12th player”, can now rejoice at the prospect of returning to stadiums to cheer their teams from April 1.

This was announced by Malaysian senior minister for defence Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, following a decision by the National Security Council at a press conference on March 18, albeit with a new ruling.

FILE PHOTO: : Malaysian supporters. Image: Shutterstock

He said that fans would be allowed to be in stadiums in areas under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).

One of the rulings is that only ten percent of the spectators’ capacity or 2,000 people, whichever is lower, is allowed at CMCO areas while 25 percent of spectators’ capacity or 8,000 people (whichever is lower) is allowed at RMCO areas.

Other Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) include; tickets to be sold online, a minimum of 1.5m to 2m distance between fans only existing stalls in the stadium allowed to operate, and organised entry and exit points.

The minister said that Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) has proposed a set of SOP on the matter during the NSC technical meeting on March 16.

“After the recommendation and risk assessment conducted by the Health Ministry, the NSC has agreed to allow fans at the stadium for sports events. However, the organisation of all tournaments with the presence of fans is subject to permission from KBS,” he added.

He further said that the movement of fans during entry and exit at venues will be monitored and assessed strictly by the Health Ministry, NSC and KBS.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Football League (MFL) has welcomed the Government’s decision and thanked the KBS for their support towards the sport since last year.

 Its chief executive Datuk Ab Ghani Hassan said that the decision is very important to revitalise the local football scene, bereft of fans since the pandemic hit the nation a year ago, which forced the league to be suspended amidst the movement control order.

 He also confirmed that the MFL has selected two Super League matches as pilot projects to assess fans’ management protocol. 

These matches involve Johor Darul Ta’zim FC against Melaka United FC on April 2 at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Johor, followed by Kuala Lumpur City FC against Sabah on April 3 at Kuala Lumpur Stadium. 

“These matches are vital to ensure our protocols are strictly followed, monitored and progressed so the MFL may further assess all venues that meet the set criteria prior to allowing fans back into the stadium,” he said.

 He added that the MFL will continue to preserve the sports bubble while maintaining the SOP amid the government’s approval.

 “Fans are advised to observe all SOPs in breaking the pandemic chain, and we must appreciate what has been granted to ensure Malaysian football industry is roaring back with fans behind their back,” he added.

This article was first published on March 20, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 133

THE BRUNEIAN | KUALA LUMPUR

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