Withdrawing from the AFF Suzuki Cup currently hosted by Myanmar will have major implications for Malaysia as the host of the 2017 SEA Games, including being sanctioned by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) honorary secretary Low Beng Choo said the football competition in the SEA Games would be affected if Malaysia decides to boycott or withdraw from the ongoing AFF Suzuki Cup co-hosted by Myanmar in Yangon, because the AFC or Fifa may decide to penalise the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for such action.
"We do not know what kind of punishment will be meted out by Fifa to FAM because there are several categories and if there is any kind of political interference, the punishment will be certainly be heavy.
"The OCM also has the authority to stage football as part of the SEA Games programme if Fifa decides to suspend the national association," said Low when contacted by Bernama today.
Low also advised the FAM to make a decision that is not influenced by government interference and not mix sports with politics.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday said he had lobbied for the national team to boycott the AFF Suzuki Cup due to co-host Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority.
According to a Malay Mail Online report, violence had recently escalated in the Rakhine state, with Myanmar’s six-month-old government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi blaming insurgency by Islamist militants for military attacks which has killed at least 26 people.
Khairy had said he had brought up the issue in the cabinet meeting last week, and will continue doing so in the same meeting this week.
Myanmar and the Philippines are co-hosting the AFF Suzuki Cup from Nov 19 to 26.
Malaysia is incidentally drawn in Group B with host Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Despite urgings for the national team to boycott the tournament, Malaysia had already played two matches - against Cambodia and Vietnam - and face Myanmar on Saturday.