KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (Bernama) -- Reviewing sponsorship, including that of cigarette companies, may be the best possible solution to resolve the Football Association of Malaysia's (FAM) sponsorship and financial woes.
Former FAM secretary general Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad said the decision to bar cigarette sponsorship a few years ago was not the government's policy but one by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the final decision to abide or not depends on the respective country.
"In fact there are countries that still use cigarette money to keep their sporting activities going despite WHO's policy," he told Bernama here Thursday.
He cited the Liga Indonesia or better known as Djarum Indonesia Super League (Djarum ISL) which continues to be the main sponsor since 2005 although Dunhill who sponsored FAM to a tune of RM35 million a year had withdrawn since 2004.
Islamic countries are at the losing end as sponsorship from beer or liquor companies are forbidden but leagues in other parts of the world are using beer or alcohol companies as sponsors.
"But as far as we are concerned, I feel that if cigarette sponsors are not allowed, beer and liquor companies are not allowed, then we have to depend on very little sponsorship from other sources.
"This in a way hampers the running of the league and forces the governing body to reduce grants provided and as a result teams end up not paying salaries of players, insurance, income tax, etc," said Dr Ibrahim.
He added that just because cigarette advertisements are not allowed, or cigarette sponsorship not allowed, it doesn't mean the number of smokers had reduced.
It has also not reduced the number of deaths due to cigarette related diseases like heart attack, cancer or reduced the manufacturing and smuggling of cheap cigarettes, he said.
As such, Dr Ibrahim urged the government to review the ban on cigarette advertisements in the local league.