Malaysian football on guard after spate of player attacks

Malaysia international Faisal Abdul Halim was attacked at a mall on Sunday when he was splashed with acid, causing fourth-degree burns which have affected his speech and movement. How Foo Yeen/Getty Images

The Football Association of Malaysia has recommended players consider hiring bodyguards while Johor Darul Ta'zim has beefed up security for its squad after their midfielder Safiq Rahim became the third player to be attacked over the last week.

Safiq, a former Malaysia captain, had his car windscreen smashed by unknown assailants late on Tuesday.

Selangor winger Faisal Abdul Halim was left in critical condition after being splashed with acid at a shopping mall on Sunday, while national team player Akhyar Rashid was injured in a robbery outside his home in the eastern state of Terengganu last week, media reported.

Terengganu police have said both attacks were unrelated, but the incidents have sparked concern in Malaysia where violence against athletes is rare.

Safiq, who was unharmed in the incident, said in a copy of a police report shared on Instagram that two men on a motorcycle approached his car with a hammer and smashed his rear windscreen.

"Did not expect that I would be attacked next near the JDT training centre. We need to be vigilant," the 36-year-old said in an accompanying caption.

JDT, who are run by the crown prince of the Johor royal family, called on police to investigate the attack on Safiq and said it had advised players to be cautious of their surroundings and about what they post on social media.

"The incident, together with the recent attacks on Akhyar Rashid and Faisal Halim, have no place in football," JDT chief executive officer Alistair Edwards said in a statement on the team's Facebook page.

FAM president Hamidin Amin said players should take additional safety measures, such as hiring personal bodyguards.

"While not all players may have the financial means to hire bodyguards, it's a sensible idea, especially for star players who may attract unwanted attention," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily on Tuesday.