National interim football coach Fandi Ahmad and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) owe the Sikh community an apology over a culturally inappropriate comment made at a media conference on 7 September at the Oasia Hotels and Residence.
The media conference was held before the friendly match between Singapore and Mauritius which ended in a 1-1 draw.
To a question posed by New Paper journalist Dilenjit Singh, Fandi responded by making the culturally inappropriate and somewhat racist comment.
The question posed by the TNP writer Dilenjit Singh was as follows:
“You said that in terms of skill and technique, some of our rivals in the region have overtaken us. How would that affect you wanting to play the good football which you are known for.”
In response, Fandi Ahmad said: “We have not all bad… I can’t condemn anybody because our system is different from others. I can’t say it also, as it is against the Government. You know if I say it loud, you know, you will be seeing your turban would be gone. Seriously bro. I cannot say, I want to tell you. But later private I will tell you. ”
What was also troubling was that there was a burst of laughter after the inappropriate comment was made.
Even more disturbing was the fact that the media in the room did not make any mention or report about it despite it being a media conference.
Photos posted by the FAS on its Facebook page show that among the FAS staff in the media conference were team manager Noh Alam Shah and team manager Eric Ong.
TOC has reached out to the FAS for a response over the matter.
Former national striker Fandi Ahmad was appointed as interim national coach in May this year, as a replacement for V Sundram Moorthy.
Update: In a statement, it is said that Fandi and the FAS have contacted Mr. Dilenjit Singh (The New Paper reporter) and the Sikh Advisory Board (SAB) to explain, apologise and clarify the matter. Mr. Singh gracefully accepted their explanation and apology. FAS states that its discussion with the Sikh Advisory Board has also revealed that the comments could be hurtful to the Sikh community even though they were not made with any malicious intent.