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PETALING JAYA, April 22 — National football players and officials from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) did not cut the queue to receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at Dewan Seri Seroja in Putrajaya, Monday.
FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam said all 39 players and the remaining recipients of the vaccine had gotten due approval from the authorities.
“I don’t want to give a long comment but we got the approval and have followed the due process,” he said when met by reporters at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya here today.
A total of 78 individuals comprising players and officials, including top FAM officials received the first dose of the vaccine on April 19 in preparation for the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers campaign in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) scheduled in June.
The vaccine brought much relief to players and officials in terms of their health, besides boosting the confidence of Tan Cheng Hoe’s squad in their effort to create history in qualifying for the 2023 Asian Cup finals.
However, the vaccination of the players was criticised by netizens, with some questioning why the Harimau Malaya squad was given priority over other more vulnerable and at-risk groups in the country such as the elderly, the disabled (OKU) and educators.
For the record, 264 athletes and officials representing the country at international tournaments in their mission to qualify for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Tokyo received the Covid-19 vaccine on April 13.
It was the first group out of a total of 4,000 athletes and officials on the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ (KBS) list of priority vaccine recipients under the first phase of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme.
Meanwhile, Stuart confirmed that all 39 players have received the first dose of the injection after five players, namely Brendan Gan, Muhammad Syahmi Safari, Muhammad Khairulazhan Mohd Khalid, Muhammad Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi from Selangor FC, and S. Kumahran from Melaka United FC received their shots today.
“Those who received the injection today were not the second group of players, but rather those who were unable to come on Monday due to logistical problems,” Stuart said. — Bernama