Malaysian team Selangor pulls out of football season-opener after player assaults

By AFP   May 8, 2024 | 08:03 pm PT
Malaysian team Selangor pulls out of football season-opener after player assaults
Johor Darul Ta'zim's former Malaysia captain Safiq Bin Rahim was the third Malaysian player to be victim of an assault in the past week. Photo by AFP/Manjunath Kiran
One of Malaysia's top football clubs has pulled out of Friday's season-opening Charity Shield after a spate of assaults, including an acid attack, on players in the country.

Selangor FC said they would not play in the showpiece curtain-raiser against Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puteri, southern Johor state.

The decision followed a third assault against a player in the past week when Johor's former Malaysia skipper Safiq Rahim was threatened with a hammer and had his car windscreen smashed by two assailants.

Safiq was not injured in the attack, which took place late Tuesday in Johor state following a training session with JDT, one of Asia's top clubs run by the crown prince of the Johor royal family.

Malaysia winger Faisal Halim is in intensive care with fourth-degree burns after being splashed with acid at the weekend outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.

His teammate Akhyar Rashid was injured in a robbery outside his home in the eastern state of Terengganu last week.

"After much deliberation and detailed discussion with various parties... the club has reluctantly decided to not participate in the 2024 Charity Cup match," Selangor, the 2023 Super League runners-up, said in a club statement issued late Wednesday.

It cited "a series of criminal incidents and recent threats involving several players and team officials within just 72 hours."

The club added: "The safety of the team is of utmost importance and we take all forms of violence and threats seriously."

Selangor FC had earlier asked the Malaysian Football League to postpone Friday's match.

Stuart Ramalingam, chief executive officer of the Malaysian Football League, was asked by AFP on Thursday if the game was now off.

"Yes, likely since Selangor has confirmed they won't attend," he said.

Football Association of Malaysia president Hamidin Mohamad Amin on Tuesday urged high-profile footballers to take precautions about their safety, including hiring bodyguards.

Authorities have yet to establish any motives for the attacks, the first since the formation of the country's professional league 30 years ago.

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