Superstar goalie barred from leaving Malaysia after failing to settle income tax

THE secret is finally out.

The mystery behind goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat’s absence from the national team’s Oceania tour was finally revealed by the FA of Malaysia (FAM).


Khairul Fahmi, who plays for Kelantan, was left red-faced at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang on June 11 after he was told by immigration officers that he was barred from leaving the country for failing to pay his income tax.

He was supposed to board a plane, along with 23 other national players, to their training base in Brisbane, Australia.

However, Khairul Fahmi left yesterday to rejoin the team after settling his taxes. FAM kept silent over the entire affair until today after the media checked with the Immigration and Income Tax Departments over Khairul Fahmi’s status.

The Kota Baru-born Khairul Fahmi is one of the most recognisable faces in Malaysian football. He was part of the 2010 AFF Cup and 2011 Sea Games winning teams.

The 27-year-old, who has won numerous accolades, was once considered one of Asia’s best goalkeepers.

Prior to FAM’s disclosure, football fans had raised questions over national coach Ong Kim Swee’s decision to start third-choice keeper Farhan Abu Bakar in last week’s embarrassing 2-0 defeat to Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.

“Khairul Fahmi was barred from leaving the country. He only knew about it when he was due to board the plane with his teammates to Brisbane,” said FAM general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin in a statement.

“We advised him to settle his dues with the Income Tax Department and he has done so. Khairul Fahmi has now travelled to Noumea and will be available for the friendly match against New Caledonia today, followed by Fiji in Nadi on June 26.”

“We hope players will be more sensitive with issues that could see them being barred from travelling overseas as it can affect the national team.

“It is a lesson for everyone. On FAM’s side, we took things for granted and did not check the status of our players.

We will conduct thorough checks for the next overseas trip on all senior and youth players,” Hamidin added.

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