Malaysia ponders full-time refs, FIFA coach opines

The Malaysian Football Association is considering employing full-time referees for the M-League. Currently, most referees in Malaysia are also full-time government officials. "We are constantly thinking of ways to upgrade our referees’ competence. Having full-time ones is a possibility but the financial implications could be huge," said deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah after opening a five-day workshop in Kuala Lumpur conducted by former England FA head of referees, John Baker.

Baker, now on the FIFA referees board and author of The Official FA guide to Basic Refereeing, is the second Englishman in successive years to conduct a course in Kuala Lumpur after David Elleray. "It’s going to be exciting working with the group. This is my first time in Malaysia but I was told there are quite a number of referees whose performance have been recognised by FIFA," he said.

Rizal Hashim of the Malay Mail reported that Baker "was not afraid to contradict" FIFA's response to the referee's ruling in the Asian qualifying match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on 3 September which it declared invalid and then ordered the game to be replayed. "I believe FIFA rushed into a decision," Baker said.