A new study has found that Malaysians love football and football fans have more positive feelings towards their team than their counterparts in any other country.
Malaysian football fans were found to be more positive than their English counterparts, but not in the way most fans in the rest of the world think.
“Malaysia’s football fans are highly regarded, and we would like to encourage the footballing world to embrace this sentiment,” Dr Rina Toh, a psychologist and researcher at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement.
“We wanted to see if this could be replicated elsewhere.
We wanted to find out if the same things that drive Malaysians to love football were also at play here.”
Dr Toh’s study focused on a sample of nearly 2,000 football fans in Malaysia, and the findings have been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
She found that football fans had more positive views of their team compared to their English and French counterparts.
“There are two main types of people in Malaysia: the soccer fans and the non-soccer fans,” Dr Toh said.
“Soccer fans like football because they are more involved in the sport, they enjoy the game and they enjoy their team.”
“So the soccer fan is a football fan because they enjoy football and the other group of fans is a non-football fan because of their lack of involvement in the game.”
The findings come as the Malaysian government is planning to launch a national team in 2019.
“Football fans are extremely motivated to play the game.
They have to pay taxes to the government to play football, and they spend a lot of money on training,” Dr Siti Nafis, the chairperson of the National Football League (NFL), told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.”
This is a very good way to keep football alive in Malaysia,” she said.
Football fans have also been known to buy football merchandise.
The findings may have implications for the next major league, the Malaysian Super League (MASL), which was formed in 2012.
“The MASL is a huge success story, but it has faced many challenges over the past few years,” Dr Jefri Saini, the director of sports marketing at the Malaysian Sports Commission, said on Wednesday, adding that there was a need to diversify the fan base of the game so that it can become more of a worldwide phenomenon.
“It is important that the Malaysian fans understand that they are also very passionate about football, but they also want to support the league.”