Malaysia has taken a stance action against Myanmar in protest against the Southeast Asian nation’s bloody crackdown on "ethnic cleansing" Rohingya Muslims by cancelling two under-22 friendly soccer matches.
Kuala Lumpur's national soccer team spokesman confirmed on Thursday (1 December) that the matches had been called off, following the news that hundreds of Muslims in Rohingya were forced to flee across the border to Bangladesh, amid allegations of abuses by security forces.
The spokesman, who was declined to be identified as it is a sensitive topic, told Reuters, "It [cancellation of matches] was a political decision because of the Rohingya issue."
Harimau Malaysia, the country's national team, also posted on Twitter on Wednesday (30 November) and said, "International matches between under-22 Harimau Malaysia vs Myanmar, which were scheduled to take place on Dec. 9 and 12 in Yangon, have been cancelled."
Malaysia's Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin stressed that Myanmar's membership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should be evaluated because of the "cruelty" forced on the Rohingya Muslims, who are currently forced to live in camps in Rakhine state.
However, general secretary Datuk Seri Azzuddin Ahmad warned they could face Fifa sanctions if they withdrew from the Suzuki Cup as Malaysia decided against pulling out of the tournament after Asean Football Federation (AFF).
He said, "Please don't bring football into this. There are many other ways that Malaysia could show their protest if they wanted to. "It will be seen as government interference and Fifa does not tolerate this."
"A blanket ban on football by Fifa will disrupt many things. Football in Malaysia will not be able to go on. There will be no football at the SEA Games and even Malaysian clubs will not be able to participate in any competition," he added.
Kuala Lumpur has been increasingly critical of the Myanmar government for not doing anything sustainable to protect Rohingyas.
Ethnic Rohingyas are being allegedly victimised over the past few years as they are considered a stateless minority. They are also termed illegal immigrants in the Buddhist-majority nation.
The Burmist who envoy in Hong Kong, Ye Myint Aung, said a shocking racist statement by saying that Muslims "are as ugly as ogres" and do not share the "fair and soft" skin of other Burmese ethnic.
Therefore, the Burmese consul general concluded, "Rohingya are neither Myanmar people nor Myanmar’s ethnic group."
Rohingya and the military broke out in violent clashes in 2012, claimed the lives of more than 100 peple and left more than 100,000 homeless.
While, the recent violent was believd to be triggered an attack on three security posts by nearly 250 armed men on 9 October. Reports claim the Myanmar military has launched an attack on Rohingyas to drive them out of the country since then which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis.
United Nation (UN) reported that more than 30,000 people have already fled the region after violence escalated in the northern Rakhine state in October.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to attend a gathering on Sunday (4 December) to express concern over the Rohingya issue.