Former national footballer K Kannan received a letter from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) reminding him that he was not to partake in any football-related activities due to his lifetime ban, and now he has made an appeal to have it lifted, said ex-chairman of Singapore People’s Party (SPP) Jose Raymond on Tuesday (17 Aug).
Kannan was sentenced to prison in 1995 after he was convicted of conspiring with two other men to offer $80,000 to then-national goalkeeper David Lee to concede a goal in a Malaysia Cup match.
He was also convicted on a charge of receiving $5,000 as a reward for arranging the bribe. Kannan has since been banned for life from all football activities.
In 1999, Kannan filed appeals for the ban to be lifted through Member of Parliament (MP) for Fengshan Chng Hee Kok and MP for Bedok S Jayakumar, but they were rejected. He also made appeals to the Asian Football Confederation in May 2000 and in 2002 but it was rejected both times.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Raymond noted that a close friend had told him that Kannan received a letter from FAS after he was spotted playing social football with his friends a few months back.
The letter, signed by FAS president Lim Kia Tong, was issued to remind him that he was not to partake in any football-related activities either directly or indirectly.
It stated that Kannan was “permanently suspended from taking part in football management or membership or the activities of the Association” on 18 April 1995 following his conviction, adding that the former footballer is aware the ban extends to “all football-related activities”.
“I thought this was preposterous as an individual should be allowed to play with his friends, as a means to keep fit, and age gracefully, especially if it doesn’t involve any football activities directly organised by the FAS, or a sanctioned event,” said Mr Raymond.
Following the issuance of letter, Mr Raymond decided to meet Kannan with the help of a close friend and subsequently introduced him to lawyers from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.
He noted they have submitted an appeal to have Kannan’s lifetime ban lifted last week.
“We are fighting for Kannan, who turns 60 in January 2022, to have his ban lifted so he can move on with his life, and does not need to go to the grave with this life ban on his back.
“We are honoured that former internationals Malek Awab, E Manimohan, Jai Prakash and former national team manager Patrick Ang are all supporting Kannan’s appeal,” he said.
Mr Raymond noted that “Kannan has no intention to play, or manage or coach any professional football teams”.
“His days are over and has served his time, and has stayed on the straight and narrow after his conviction in 1995, and ensured that he did whatever he could do to put food on the table for his family, even till today,” he added.
Mr Raymond further noted that the former footballer has been on the list of banned players for 26 years since 1995, pointing out that Kannan should be allowed to move on with his life by now.
“No one should be punished for the rest of their lives, especially after doing the time for their crimes. Everyone deserves second chances, and an opportunity to live and die with dignity,” he remarked.
In an interview with The Monitor SG on Tuesday, Kannan noted that he feels happy knowing some people still think and care for him even though his “best days” in football are over.
“I made a mistake and have paid for it very dearly and I just want to move on with my life,” he remarked.
It was also highlighted in the report that the FAS has acknowledged receipt of Kannan’s appeal filed through his lawyers.
Marathoner Soh Rui Yong explains why it’s a “stupid ban”
Commenting on Mr Raymond’ post, Singapore’s top marathoner Soh Rui Yong said that the lifetime ban imposed on Kannan was “stupid” and “unreasonably wide-reaching”, given that it extends to “all football-related activities”.
“Perhaps if the ban was limited to ‘all FAS organized activities’, that would be more reasonable. But what is ‘all football related activities’? If I kick a football to Mr Kannan, and he kicks it back, is he to be punished for that?
“If we play football with a plastic bottle like we did in school, is he to be punished for that? (I’d love to see the authorities try) Away with these archaic laws,” said the national athlete.
Mr Soh urged the FAS to focus on improving the national football team instead, which is currently ranked 157th team in the FIFA Ranking as of September last year.
“To the Football Association of Singapore, rather than wasting your time pursuing a 60 year old for playing social football, maybe you would like to spend more time and resources on improving our national football team seeing that our FIFA ranking is at an all time low. Priorities!” he remarked.