Sunday, May 09, 2010
When "PROFESSIONAL" was a DIRTY word
These days, when we singled out any player who can't perform on the field when he supposed to, we would labelled him for being "unprofessional" or "not being professional enough to do his job".
However back in the old days, the term "professional" was a DIRTY word.
Simply because players in those days were strictly amateur (as featured in the movie "Kallang Roar") and any form of engagement that comes with monetary reward was strictly prohibited.
I was told by a player from that era that once he was almost sacked from the national team, when a boot manufacturer used his name without his knowledge on an advertisement.
Facing the similar situation was his team mate, Quah Kim Song, although not without any controversy, as detailed in these newspaper archives back in 1977 (sourced from NLB archives).
In 26th August 1977, The Straits Times carried this report (as depicted below) that the star striker "is a professional" declared by Dato Teoh Chye Hin, the then secretary general of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after it was reported that Quah, beside being featured in an advertisement, made appearance at a local department store to "sign autograph and witnessed distribution of tee-shirts".
Perhaps such conduct was therefore not in line as an amateur in Dato Teoh's theory and there was speculation if the last Lions of the legendary Quah family would ever be eligible for the 1977 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
The whole issue dragged for weeks and there was a sudden "U-turn" in Dato Teoh's stand on this issue when he retracted his earlier statement on 23rd October 1977 (pictured above), after he "is now aware of the circumstance (then)."
No taking any chance, the FAS decided to take "one step ahead" by seeking necessary guidance from FIFA on this matter and was given the mandate by the world governing body to decide the matter themselves and which they did on 3rd November 1977 by declared Quah Kim Song as an amateur to "close the case".
Unfortunately, it was not a good outing for the national team and Quah himself, as they suffered two defeats to both Burma (5-1) and Thailand (2-0) in the tournament.