SINGAPORE - Those who have more should help the needy during this ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, but Singapore national football team and Johor Darul Takzim skipper Hariss Harun feels people should also contribute willingly and not be forced to do so.
The 29-year-old is part of the JDT team of players, coaches and staff who have agreed to take a 33 per cent pay cut from this month to chip in to the Johor Disaster Fund. This also means Hariss is the first Singaporean footballer to take a salary reduction during this period.
He told The Straits Times: "At JDT, we are well-paid and well looked after. With many people in Johor suffering and struggling with the virus and the lockdown, we feel that we need to help.
"We all agreed to the pay cut and we hope it can go a long way to help those in need."
The Malaysia Super League (MSL) club are noted not just for their generous wages - with players like Hariss earning over $30,000 a month - but also for their philanthropy.
In 2016, the Southern Tigers gave financial aid to Brazil's Chapecoense, who were decimated by a plane crash.
The following year, they donated their Malaysia Cup prize money to help flood victims in Penang. Last year, they raised RM680,000 (S$223,000) for charity through an exhibition match at the Larkin Stadium.
Their latest pay cut is in line with what top European clubs like Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich have done.
However, English Premier League clubs have been slow to react, drawing widespread criticism.
In Singapore, there have been discussions about the matter, while across the Causeway, the Malaysian Football League staff will take a 10 to 20 per cent pay cut. But the Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia (PFAM) has resisted the same move for players (outside of JDT), stating that many of their members do not earn big salaries.
MSL giants Selangor have already assured their players and staff that they will not face pay cuts.
Football website Goal.com reported that an internal memo dated on Saturday and written by club president Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin read: "I am pleased to inform that Selangor's finances for the next few months are solid.
"The management will hold discussions with our sponsors from the state government, state-linked companies and private firms to ensure that the sponsorship deals that have been agreed will continue to be received."
Hariss has backed the PFAM.
"We don't all earn the same. A percentage means different things to different people, who have different responsibilities," he said. "Some may earn less, while others may have a bigger family with more mouths to feed.
"Of course, it would be nice that those who have more can help, but I feel you can't force every footballer to take a pay cut. These things should be encouraged, not forced."
As the world tries to contain the contagion, one thing that is enforced is that football training and matches have stopped in most leagues. The last session for JDT - who lead the MSL with 10 points after four games - was on March 15.
Since then, Hariss has been going to the gym to keep up with his club's fitness programme - JDT players are required to submit their workout videos to the fitness coach - but the circuit-breaker measures introduced by the Government last week means he has to improvise further.
He has weights and resistant bands at his Punggol home but is looking to get an exercise bike.
The father of a five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter said: "We just have to adapt as best as we can. Like most people, we footballers are also worried about our livelihood, but there are also more important things out there. For me, it's a chance to bond with my children at home even though they may get restless from not being able to go to school or the playground.
"Only when everyone does their part and be socially responsible, will we be able to get through this crisis and life can return to normal as soon as possible."