KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s chef de mission has called for footballer Nazmi Faiz to be sent home after he was red-carded for spitting at an opponent at the SEA Games in Singapore.
Norza Zakaria told Malaysia’s The Star newspaper that it was the “right thing” to send back the talented playmaker, 20, although the final decision rests with team officials.
“I’ll leave it to the team management to handle the issue. It’s the right thing to send him back,” he said in a report published on Tuesday. “We cannot tolerate such behavior from our athletes.”
After Nazmi’s sending-off, 10-man Malaysia struggled to a 1-0 win over lowly East Timor in their opening under-23 game at the multi-sport Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on Saturday.
The game earlier attracted scrutiny after East Timor’s team manager was detained, charged and suspended from football activities for alleged match-fixing.
Chef de mission Norza also raised concerns over reports that Malaysia’s shooting team had been barred from talking to the press, apparently to shield them from pressure.
“I am a very open person. I don’t think we need to gag the athletes,” he was quoted as saying.
The 11-nation, biennial SEA Games are returning to Singapore after a 22-year absence and will formally open with a gala ceremony on Friday.
The event is wildly popular in the fast-developing region and features Olympic sports alongside regional favorites like martial art pencak silat and sepaktakraw, a form of volleyball played with the feet.