Singapore's professional football league, S-League has announced that it has decided not to implement the controversial age-restriction rule that would have limited the number of players above the age of 30 who could play in next season's S-League.
After less than three weeks after age rules were announced by S-League chief executive officer, Lim Chin, the league announced in a statement on its website last night it would not be making changes after all to force teams to meet quotas for younger and older players.
It had wanted all six local clubs in the 10-team league to have no more than five outfield players above 30 and at least three players aged 25 or under.
The rules came under fire immediately from older players, who wrote in to forums and online commentaries and comments from netizens.
Many of the writers felt the curbs on older players were nothing short of discrimination, and that players should be judged on ability and fitness, not age.
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) also weighed in and met S-League officials last Monday to seek clarification on the proposed changes. It is believed that several players also put their grievances to the Manpower Ministry.
Lim Chin was also embroiled in a controversial incident where he blasted the players by saying "The chairman of the club and the management committee (are) above all of you. You are players, nobody is bigger than the club. The chairman heads the club."
The full statement from S-League
Following discussions, the S.League and the Club Chairmen have decided not to implement the new rules of maximum and minimum number of players for the various age categories. The decision was taken after careful consideration of the appeals made by some affected players.
The S.League's goal is to always improve the standard of football to make it more exciting and competitive. The clubs must also be able to compete at the regional level. To achieve these goals, there will be a continued and greater emphasis on performance, a high level of fitness, and the ability to play at a high intensity for all players in the S.League.
The list of the players released by clubs was issued on Monday (17 Nov 2014). The clubs have until 13 Feb 2015 to submit the first registration of players for the new season. The registration window closes on 27 Mar 2015.
Following the consolidation of the S.League to 10 clubs next season, the S.League has also started to help players looking to move on to new careers by linking them up with potential employers. Next season, to further assist players make career transitions in future, a study subsidy scheme will also be proposed for players who want to further their studies at approved institutions.