August 2, 2007 / 6:16 AM / 12 years ago

Malaysia denies having race-based selection policy

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Malaysia’s soccer federation has denied selecting its national team based on racial lines.

The country’s Asian Cup squad, who were panned after their poor performances at last month’s Asian Cup, is made up of 20 ethnic Malays and two Indians.

Malays make up around 60 percent of the country’s population but Chinese and Indians also form strong minorities.

Football Association of Malaysia deputy president, Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad, was quoted in the Today newspaper as saying: “Never once in the history of FAM have we tried to build a Malay-dominated team.

“And we have never based our selection of players on race or religion. It’s just unfortunate that the Indians and Chinese are not interested in football these days.”

The FAM is preparing to explain to the government why the national team performed so badly at the Asian Cup, where the co-hosts lost 5-1 to China, 5-0 to Uzbekistan and 2-0 to Iran in Group C.

In Singapore, ethnic Malays are the minority but make up more than 60 percent of the national soccer squad.

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