FAM clarify claims teenager not given chance to represent Harimau Malaya

KUALA LUMPUR – The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have revealed that the father of Jaami Qureshi, a teenager based in England, wanted his son to be given citizenship status privileges without having to undergo the process of technical evaluation.

FAM revealed this to deny allegations that they were not serious about ensuring Jaami, who plays as a centreback with the youth team of English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion, was given the opportunity to represent the country.

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FAM secretary-general Mohd Saifuddin Abu Bakar said they began communicating with Jaami’s father, Perviz Qureshi and Brighton academy manager John Morling at the end of June 2020.

He said that it was to discuss calling up the player, who will turn 18 next month, for the national Under-19 squad’s centralised training camp ahead of the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 championship, which was subsequently cancelled.

However, on July 10, 2020, Perviz said he was reluctant to allow Jaami, who is of Iraqi-Malaysian descent, to return home due to the long COVID-19 quarantine period and suggested that FAM start the process of getting his son’s citizenship document.

Perviz was also reluctant to allow FAM to send their technical staff to assess Jaami’s capabilities.

“As the country’s football governing body, FAM will not compromise in complying with the government’s rules, guidelines and laws with regard to the process of COVID-19 quarantine and citizenship status for any individual in all age groups of the national teams,” Mohd Saifuddin said in a statement issued by FAM.

He said that on July 14, 2020, FAM again replied stating that three very important factors had to be determined. Firstly, Jaami must be present physically to fufil the process of applying for citizenship documentation, including identity card and passport.

Secondly, Jaami was required to give his commitment to choosing Malaysia and not England should both qualify for the 2021 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and, thirdly, Jaami must udergo a selection trial from the technical aspect, just like the other foreign-based footballer, Wan Ahmad Kuzri Ahmad Kamal.

However, on July 24, 2020, Jaami was officially left out by the national Under-19 head coach then, Brad Maloney, after both parties failed to reach an agreement regarding the three factors.

“It is clear that there is no truth to allegations that FAM did not take any action. The secretary-general took the initiative to reach out to the Qureshi family in 2020 but, due to several factors, efforts to get Jaami a Malaysian citizenship did not materialise.

“Now that Jaami has chosen Iraqi citizenship, we wish him all the best,” said Mohd Saifuddin.