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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Despite death threats, firebomb, Zairil won't quit FAP post

Despite two death threats and a memorandum to the state government calling for his dismissal as Football Association of Penang (FAP) president, Zairil Khir Johari said today he will not vacate the post.
“I was elected to this post. I did not elect myself,” Zairil said at a press conference when asked about strong criticisms against his leadership of the FAP.
“It is the state’s money, and matters involving FAP should be handled responsibly,” he added.
The DAP Bukit Bendera MP said he had received the two death threats, which were posted on his Facebook page.
“The two threats are clear threats, to physically harm me and cause my death,” he said.
Zairil has lodged police reports on the death threats, and left it to the police to investigate the matter.
FAP coach Ashley Westwood and several team players have also received such threats, while on Feb 14, FAP's office was firebombed with a Molotov cocktail. The perpetrators are still at large.
“Others threats were vicious words in our Facebook accounts. But really, all these do not help anyone,” Zairil said.
“Those who were involved in violence, for example, the riot after the match with Sarawak, have all been arrested. It does not help them or their families,” Zairil added.
He said FAP’s decisions are made collectively, and he is adamant not to give up his post “just because there are some troublemakers”.
Zairil has given up other state posts, for example, as executive director of think-tank Penang Institute, to focus on FAP.
He said this in response to a coalition of 13 Penang football fan clubs that submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng last Friday, calling for Zairil’s position in FAP to be reviewed.
Call also for Westwood to be sacked
The memorandum also calls for Westwood to be sacked for the team’s abysmal performance, and for the state to stop allowing politicians to hold leadership posts in FAP.
The memorandum targeted FAP’s five consecutive defeats since the start of the Super League season this year.
Zairil questioned the change in fan behaviour as the results of the FAP were not different from that before he was appointed to the post in January.
Last year, before Zairil took on the president’s post, FAP lost seven matches and drew in one.
This year, the FAP also lost in six games, and won one (a club game) but spent a much less budget, he said.
“But how is it that the response is different? Why is it people are so angry this time? We did not see demonstrations or the submission of memorandum the last time,” Zairil said.
“But suddenly when I am here, there is a 10 times heightened response, so I also question the motive of these outbursts,” he said.

Asked if there was a possibility of sabotage against him, Zairil said, “I do not know. Whatever information we have, and we have a lot, have been passed to the police to investigate.”
As to how he intends to resolve the crisis, Zairil urged football fans to support the Penang team and to give them positive encouragement.
“Yes, you are free and it is right to criticise us. We can accept that, but we cannot accept violence, there is no point in doing that,” Zairil said.- Mkini

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