I played at Melaka United FC for three years. It was a team with a large fan base in Malaysia. Unfortunately, throughout those three years, the club did not pay my team-mates and I on quite a few occasions. Sometimes they would postpone payments for two to three months and it was a regular occurrence that we would not get our salaries paid.
We talked about it a lot with the club. We could never speak with the director about it, instead he would always send a staff member to discuss things with us. In my capacity as vice-president of the Malaysian player association, PFAM, I was involved in more than ten of those meetings. Every time those representatives would tell us that the club would pay us but, in the end, they never would.
It was difficult for us players. It affected my team-mates in many ways and it had a big effect on their mental health. Some had arguments at home with their partners because they are the breadwinners. Some needed the money to put their kids in school. Other players had wives who wanted to start a family but had to wait because of their difficult financial situation. However, the problem – the lack of money – was not caused by the players, but by the club.
For me personally, it was also quite difficult. As a professional player you need to respect your contract: come to training, obey the club’s instructions, play matches. As a human being, though, I felt very angry about the situation. But I respected the contract and the club, as did my team-mates.
It gave us an extra fighting spirit. We wanted to prove that Melaka could perform well and we managed to reach the semi-final of the Malaysia Cup in 2021. Even though the club were not treating us as they should, we were out there on the pitch fighting for Melaka United.
In December 2021, a reporter wanted to talk with me about the future of Melaka. There were rumours and reports about the club having financial difficulties as well as problems with its status as a professional football club.
The reporter approached me as I am the deputy president of the player association and in that capacity, I made a statement. I told him that the club had a problem with arrears. I didn’t say this to tarnish the club’s name; I was simply fighting for the rights of the 25 Melaka players, for my friends’ rights and for my rights.
The club were not happy with my statement and wanted to terminate my contract. According to them, I had breached one of the clauses that states that players are not allowed to talk with media without the written approval of the club.
But, once again, I was not talking as a player of the club but as the vice-president of the player union.
The PFAM supported me and took my case to the National Dispute Resolution Chamber (NDRC), which had just been established. My case was the first hearing at our NDRC and we won.
It is a bit technical, but when I signed with Melaka, I only signed a contract offer – the club never gave me a contract. So, I could not have known about the clauses. We claimed the full amount of my contract and the NDRC granted me around 80 percent of that amount.
“We have been fighting for five years to arrange that the players have a fair arbitration system and that their voice is represented”— by Razman Roslan
Unfortunately, we now have a new problem: Melaka United were dissolved in 2022 and therefore no longer part of the professional football pyramid. In order to get my money, we are now preparing a civil court case, which will take at least half a year.
In the meantime, we also have a new case at the NDRC. Last week, we had the first hearing to support 18 players from Melaka United and 16 players from Sarawak United, a team that was demoted to the third league after not paying its players for various months. Hopefully, we can arrange that the players will receive the salaries that they are entitled to.
I am very happy that our association played such an important role in establishing the NDRC, which will have a positive influence on players’ careers in Malaysia. We have been fighting for five years to arrange that the players have a fair arbitration system, that their voice is represented, and that our rights as employees are respected. It is here to provide justice for players.