KUALA LUMPUR - Organisers of the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games on Tuesday (Aug 22) urged fans to behave themselves after Malaysia football supporters caused anger by chanting "Singapore dogs" during a game last week.
The Malaysia Organising Committee (Masoc) called the incident, footage of which has been circulating online, "highly regrettable" and said it ran counter to the spirit of the biennial sporting affair.
"Any incident that is contradictory to this spirit of togetherness and unity, especially hurling of insults at other participating nations in whatever form, is highly regrettable," the committee said in a statement.
"Fans are urged to refrain from chanting offensive religious or racial slurs at all times," it added.
The chanting was recorded during Malaysia's 2-1 Group A win over fierce rivals Singapore last Wednesday at the Shah Alam Stadium where about 30,000 supporters filled the stands.
However, Young Lions defender Irfan Fandi, 20, kept his cool in front of the hostile reception, telling The Straits Times: "I heard it but I was already expecting to hear it so it didn't affect me. I just ignored it."
The Singapore National Olympic Council has declined comment.
Highlights of the game below:
Singapore were not the only targets of the fans' invective. When the Harimau Muda opened their Group A campaign last Monday with a 2-1 win over Brunei, the home fans shouted similar chants at the visiting team and clips of the unsavoury scenes have been shared on social media.
Malaysian fans have drawn flak for using the same insult before. One example was the 2012 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup game at Bukit Jalil Stadium between the two Causeway rivals, which Singapore won 3-0.
"We Singaporeans only lose the game to them, but they lose their morals and game spirits," Rashidah Begum Shye posted on Facebook.
"Sports rivalry is good but when it descends into name calling, racist chants and unsporting behaviours, it's bad," wrote J.J. Chong.
Singapore's Under-22 team face Brunei in their final match today. The Republic has already been eliminated from the tournament.
Pre-tournament favourites Malaysia and Myanmar have qualified for the semi-finals.
This is the sixth time that Malaysia is hosting the multi-sport event, tying Thailand's record. About 5,000 of the region's athletes are competing in 36 sports held in Kuala Lumpur and its neighbouring states.
This is the latest controversy that Masoc has had to deal with since the Games, which end next Wednesday, a day before Malaysia celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence, started this month.
Masoc, along with Malaysia's foreign ministry, were forced to apologised after Indonesia's flag was printed upside down in a SEA Games commemorative magazine.
It led to a wave of complaints online from Indonesian supporters while Indonesian hackers claimed responsibility for attacking more than 30 Malaysian websites.
Indonesian media also reported yesterday that hundreds of people from the Pancasila Youth (Pemuda Pancasila), the Indonesian Youth National Committee (KNPI) and the Indonesian Islamic Student Movement (PMMI) held a protest outside the Malaysian consulate in Pekanbaru, Riau.
On Monday, seven squash players from Myanmar and a coach from the Philippines were injured in a bus crash, delaying the start of the competition.
A bus driver for the Myanmar's women's football team was arrested for stealing a watch.