Football in Malaysia

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Football in Malaysia
National Stadium Bukit Jalil 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup final.jpg
The Malaysia national team playing at Bukit Jalil during Final 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup (2014).
Country Malaysia
Governing body FA
National team Malaysia
First played Late 1800s
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

Football is the most popular sport in Malaysia. Association football is a national sport in Malaysia, where the first modern set of rules for the code were established in 1921, which were a major influence on the development of the modern Laws of the Game. The sport of football in the country of Malaysia is run by the Football Association of Malaysia. The association administers the national football team as well as the national league.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

In 1997, Malaysia hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but known as FIFA World Youth Championship during that time. In 2007, Malaysia co-hosted the Asian Cup 2007 with three other countries.

History of Malaysia Football[edit]

Football arrived in Malaysia, (Malaya at that time) with the British. The locals soon picked up the game, and before long it was the country's leading sport. Towards the end of the 19th century, football was one of the central pillars of most sports clubs in Malaya. But it was not structured. Even when the Selangor Amateur Football League took shape in 1905 – which ensured proper administration and organisation – the competition was confined only to clubs in the Kuala Lumpur.[8][9]

In January 1921, the British Royal Navy battleship H. M. S. Malaya called at Port Swettenham (now Port Klang), Singapore, Malacca, Penang and Port Dickson.[10] During its stay, the crew competed in friendly matches in football, rugby, hockey, sailing and golf against local clubs.[10]

Three months later, the Chief Secretary of the Federated Malay States government received a letter from Captain H. T. Buller of the H. M. S. Malaya, which offered two cups to be competed for in football and rugby as tokens of their gratitude for the reception they received in Malaya.[10] The cup for football were then known as the Malaya Cup The offer was accepted and various club representatives met to organise the tournament.[10] A Malaya Cup committee was set up and it was decided to run the football competition in northern and southern sections. The first tournament were entrusted to be run by the Selangor Club.[10] The first ever Malaya Cup match was played on 20 August 1921, with Selangor defeating Penang 5-1 in front of an estimated crowd of 5,000 in Kuala Lumpur.[10] The inaugural tournament were played by six teams and won by Singapore.[11] During 1923, a newspaper described it as “by far the greatest sporting event of the year (in Malaya)”.[10]

In 1933, Association football of Malaysia was founded as Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) which managed the local football scene at that time.[12] By 1954, FAM joins FIFA as a member in AFC.

Malaysia FAM Cup was established in 1952 as a secondary knockout competition to the more prestigious Malaya Cup, the competition were held between the state teams including Singapore, Police, Army, and Prisons Department of Malaysia in its early days.[13][14]

In 1959, the Malaya Cup departed from the traditional one round tournament to a two round home and away format in three zones, East, South and North.[15] A new trophy was inaugurated in 1967, and since then the competition has been known as the Piala Malaysia.[16]

Starting in 1974, the state teams were barred from entering the FAM Cup competition and only the club sides could enter.[14]

This football league competition involving the representative sides of the state football associations was first held in Malaysia in 1979.[17] When it began, it was intended primarily as a qualifying tournament for the final knock-out stages of the Piala Malaysia. A one-round league competition was introduced in Malaysia in 1979.[18] The top four teams at the end of the league will face off in two semi-finals before the winners made it to the finals. In 1981, the quarter-finals stage were introduced. When the league began, it was intended primarily as a qualifying tournament for the Piala Malaysia. However, it was not until 1982 that a League Cup was introduced to recognise the winners of the preliminary stage as the league champions which then officially started the era of nationwide level amateur football league in Malaysia.[19] Since then, the Piala Malaysia has been held after the conclusion of the league each year, with only the best-performing teams in the league qualifying for the Piala Malaysia.

Over the years, the league competition has gained important stature in its own right. From 1982 until 1988 the league is an amateur status continue its purpose as qualifying round for Piala Malaysia and only in 1989 it is changes to a new format as Malaysian Semi-Pro Football League (Liga Semi-Pro) by FAM as a 'halfway house' towards full professional status.

Initially the only teams allowed to participate in the league were the state FA's sides, teams representing the Armed Forces and the Police, and teams representing the neighbouring countries of Singapore and Brunei (though the Football Association of Singapore pulled out of the Malaysian League after the 1994 season following a dispute with the Football Association of Malaysia over gate receipts, and has not been involved since).

The inaugural season of Liga Semi-Pro consisted of nine teams in Division 1 and eight teams in Division 2 with total of 17 teams participated. The Malaysian Police joined Division 2 in 1990.[20] Games were played on a home and away basis for about four months roughly between the end of April or early May and the end of August or early September. Under the new format, only the top six teams in Division 1 and the Division 2 champions and runners-up will be involved in the Piala Malaysia.[20] Piala Malaysia was played from the quarter-final stage, scheduled for November after the league was finished. The Piala Malaysia quarter-final and semi-final matches will be played on a home and away basis.[20]

In 1992, FAM created another amateur league for local clubs in Malaysia to compete, which is called the Liga Nasional.[21] The league was managed by FAM outside entity, Super Club Sdn. Bhd. Some of the clubs which compete in the league are Hong Chin, Muar FA, PKNK from Kedah, DBKL, PKNS, BSN, LPN, BBMB, Proton, PPC and PKENJ. Unfortunately, the league only ran for a one season before it folded. Some of the clubs were then evolved and joined the main league, such as PKENJ, which became JCorp and now as JDT.

With the advent of two-league Liga Semi-Pro in 1989, FAM Cup becomes the third-tier competition. In 1993, the format of the competition was changed to include a two-group league followed by the traditional knockout format. Promotion to the professional Malaysian League were introduced for the first time in 1997, Johor FC and NS Chempaka FC the first two sides to be promoted that year.[14]

Liga Semi-Pro was the nation's top-tier league until it was succeeded by the formation of Malaysian first professional football league, the Liga Perdana in 1994 by Football Association of Malaysia.

In 1998, Liga Perdana was divided into two divisions consist of Liga Perdana 1 and Liga Perdana 2.[22][23] During this time both of the division was still just referred as Malaysian League as a whole.

During 1998, Liga Perdana 1 consist of 12 teams while Liga Perdana 2 had 8 teams.[22] 10 teams that previously qualified for Piala Malaysia which played in 1997 Liga Premier was automatically qualified to Liga Perdana 1. The other two spots was filled by playoff round of 5 lowest teams in 1997 Liga Premier and the Malaysian Olympic football team. The lowest four teams from playoff round will then put into Liga Perdana 2 alongside Police, Malaysia Military, Negeri Sembilan Chempaka F.C and PKN Johor. At this time the league still consist of semi-pro team where each team was allowed to register 25 players where 12 players must be a professional for Liga Perdana 1 and a minimum of six professional playes in Liga Perdana 2.[22]

Both leagues continued until 2003 when Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) decided to privatise the league for 2004 season onwards where Liga Super was formed. Teams in Liga Perdana 1 and Liga Perdana 2 was then was put through a qualification and playoff to be promoted into Liga Super. Teams that failed the qualification was put into now a new second-tier league Liga Premier.

A further changes were made to Malaysia FAM Cup in 2008 where the knockout stages was abolished and double round-robin league format was introduced. The tournament in now known as Malaysia FAM League.[24]

The most significant successes of the national team of Malaysia has come in the regional AFF Suzuki Cup (formerly known as the 'Tiger Cup'), which Malaysia won in 2010 for the first time in history. They beat Indonesia 4–2 on aggregate in the final to capture the country's first major international football title.

Malaysia had many top players, such as the legendary Mokhtar Dahari and Sabah's Hassan Sani and James Wong, which led Malaysia into their golden age during the 1970s until the 1980s. Before Mokhtar, The Malaysian King of Football, Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat was the most famous and respected footballer in the whole Malaya during the 1950s until the 1960s. Malaysia's 15–1 victory over the Philippines in 1962 is currently the record for the highest win for the national team. In the current generation, Mohd Safee Mohd Sali and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha are considered by Malaysians as their best striker pair.

In the FIFA World Rankings, Malaysia's highest standing was in the first release of the figures, in August 1993, at 75th. Malaysia's main rival on the international stage are their geographical neighbours, Indonesia and Singapore, and past matches between these two teams have produced much drama. Malaysia is one of the most successful teams in Southeast Asia along with Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, winning the ASEAN Football Championship 2010 and other small competitions while improving at the same time.

League system[edit]

Unlike most of countries that plays football as a main game, the league system in Malaysia still consist of representative from state association, clubs from company, ministry or government agency.

Liga Super[edit]

Main article: Liga Super

The Liga Super (Liga Super Malaysia) is a Malaysian professional league for association football. It is at the top flight of the Malaysian football league system and it is managed by the Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) and partnership of FAM. The league is contested between 12 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Liga Premier. The 12 clubs participating in this top flight league need to pass a set of requirements and verification process, particularly related to professionalism and infrastructure feasibility.[25]

Liga Premier[edit]

Main article: Liga Premier

The Liga Premier is the second-tier football league in Malaysia. It is at the second division in Malaysian football league system and it is also managed by the FMLLP and partnership of FAM. The league is contested between 12 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Malaysia FAM League. The 12 clubs participating in this league need to pass a set of requirements and verification process, particularly related to professionalism and infrastructure feasibility although with lower requirement compared to the Liga Super.[26] The league was named Astro Liga Premier (Astro Liga Premier Malaysia in Malay) in 2013 season and TM Liga Premier before then because of the sponsorship reason.

Malaysia FAM League[edit]

Main article: Malaysia FAM League

The Malaysia FAM League (Liga FAM Malaysia in Malay and formerly Malaysia FAM Cup) is the third-tier football league in Malaysia. The tournament used to be a cup format, but it changed 2008 as it was held as a league tournament and changing to its current name. Malaysia FAM Cup was established in 1952 as a secondary knockout competition to the more prestigious Malaya Cup, the competition were held between the state teams including Singapore, Police, Army, and Prisons Department of Malaysia in its early days. Starting in 1974, the state teams were barred from entering the competition and only the club sides could enter.

Liga Bolasepak Rakyat[edit]

Main article: Liga Bolasepak Rakyat

The Liga Bolasepak Rakyat is an independent football league in Malaysia and not part of the national level football pyramid. However, the winners has been invited by FAM to compete in the third-tier national level competition. The league is managed by (Liga Bolasepak Rakyat-Limited Liability Partnership (LBR-LLP) and it is an amateur-level competition which was established in 2015 with aims to create a bigger base at grassroots level and eventually provide an alternative route for footballers under the age of 28 to make the grade.[27] Currently there are a total of 111 teams out of more than 150 possible districts in the country. The teams were divided into 8 zones.[28]

Developmental league[edit]

Piala Presiden[edit]

The Piala Presiden is the amateur football competition in Malaysia for under-21 players. Since its inception, in 1985, the Piala Presiden has been the major tournament for under-21 and under-23 players. In 2009, the format of the competition was changed with only under-20 players eligible to be fielded for the tournament. In 2015 the format of the competition reverted to the original format with under-21 players and three over age players eligible to play.[29]

Piala Belia[edit]

Main article: Piala Belia

The Piala Belia is the amateur football competition in Malaysia for under-19 players. Since its inception, in 2008, the Belia Cup has been the major tournament for under-19. In 2009 to 2011, the competition is combined with Piala Presiden. In 2015 the format of the competition changed to the league format.[30]

Cup competitions[edit]

There are several cup competitions for clubs at different levels of the football pyramid. The two major cup competitions are the Piala FA and the Piala Malaysia.

Domestic Cup competitions[edit]

  • The Piala Malaysia, first held in 1921, is the oldest national cup competition in Asia.
  • The Piala FA, first held in 1990, is a national cup competition in the world. It is open to clubs and teams in levels 1–3 of the football pyramid.
  • The Piala Sumbangsih is a single match played each January between the Piala Malaysia winners and the Super League champions.

International Cup competitions[edit]

  • Pestabola Merdeka – a football tournament held in Malaysia to honour the Independence Day. The competition is Asia`s oldest football tournament which invited football playing nations to compete since 1957.[31][32][33][34]

Qualification for Asian competitions[edit]

Clubs who do well in either the Super League, Piala FA or League Cup can qualify to compete in various AFC-organised Asian-wide competitions in the following season. The number of Malaysia teams playing in Asian in any one season can range from three to four. Currently, Malaysia is awarded the following places in Asian competitions:

Competition Who Qualifies Notes
AFC Champions League Team finishing 1st in the Super League
AFC Cup Team won Piala FA

National teams[edit]

The Malaysia national football team represents Malaysia in international football. Malaysia is one of the national teams to have won the AFF Suzuki Cup and did this in 2010.

Women's football[edit]

Women's football competitions are also managed by FAM. Malaysia women's football national team represents Malaysia in international women's football.

In local football scene, a woman football competition has been held in Malaysia since 1960.[35] The inaugural season was competed by four teams from Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca. A competition trophy has only been introduced in 1961 which has been contributed by Straits Times.

Women Football Association of Malaysia (PBWM) was officially registered in December 1974 where the first president was the Tun Sharifah Rodziah. A proper tournament was officially held in 1976 when PBWM introduced the woman football tournament called the Piala Tun Sharifah Rodziah. A new trophy was contributed by the Tunku Abdul Rahman for the inaugural tournament season. The cup format was following the Piala Malaysia format at that year where a home and away match was introduced for the tournament. A total eight teams compete including Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Pahang, Perak, Penang and Singapore.

The cup was held for consistent basis until 2004 when it was not been held for 11 years and making a comeback in 2015 for the 28 edition.[36] A total of ten teams participated in the revival season of the tournament. The 2015 season was won by MIFA.[37] In 2016, MISC-MIFA defended their championship by winning the cup again for the second times.[38][39]

Stadium of Malaysia football[edit]

Some of the major stadium used for various team in Malaysia League listed as follow:

Seasons in Malaysia football[edit]

The following articles detail the major results and events in each season since 1921, when the first organised competition, the Malaya Cup, was created. Seasons in italics are wartime seasons, when official national competition was suspended, although regional football continued.

1920s: 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930
1930s: 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940
1940s: 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950
1950s: 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960
1960s: 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970
1970s: 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
1980s: 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
1990s: 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
2000s: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
2010s: 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John Duerden: Malaysia – A new hope – ESPN Soccernet". 7 July 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Soccer – Malaysia hopes to relive football glory days by training 10,000 teenagers". 21 October 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "The biggest change in Malaysian football". 28 November 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Football development: A tough job – BorneoPost Online | Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak Daily News | Largest English Daily In Borneo". 30 July 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Arulampalam, Jeeva (21 October 2009). "Malaysian soccer clubs need right structures to attract funding". Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "A much-needed intervention for the good of Malaysian football". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Future of our football – The Gaffer | The Star Online". Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  9. ^ History of Singapore Football
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Piala Malaysia History
  11. ^ Malaysia 1921
  12. ^ About FAM in FIFA Website
  13. ^ Malaysia 1952
  14. ^ a b c FA of Malaysia Cup History
  15. ^ Malaya Cup 1959
  16. ^ Malaya Cup 1967
  17. ^ The demand for Semi-Pro League football in Malaysia 1989–91: a panel data approach
  18. ^ Malaya Cup 1979
  19. ^ Malaysia 1982
  20. ^ a b c Malaysia 1989
  21. ^ Amanat Tengku Abdullah
  22. ^ a b c Pemain Malaysia bebas ke Brunei
  23. ^ Demam Piala Dunia rasuk Liga Perdana
  24. ^ Malaysia 2008
  25. ^ Kin, Ooi (4 October 2013). "The biggest change in Malaysian football – Yahoo Sports Singapore". Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Kin, Ooi (4 October 2013). "The biggest change in Malaysian football – Yahoo Sports Singapore". Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ LBR Official Website
  29. ^ Piala Belia Team Standings
  30. ^ Piala Belia 2015
  31. ^ Glory beckons Malaysia
  32. ^ Seoul Times "Hari Merdeka" Observed in Seoul 2008.09.02.
  33. ^ Asiaweek, Volume 16, Issues 27–51
  34. ^ Asia`s oldest football tournament
  35. ^ Sejarah kejohanan bola sepak wanita Piala Tun Sharifah Rodziah
  36. ^ Sabah tekad pertahan kejuaraan Piala Tun Sharifah Rodziah
  37. ^ MIFA rampas Piala Tun Sharifah Rodziah
  38. ^ Kejohanan Bola Sepak Wanita Piala Tun Sharifah Rodziah 2016