It is “grossly unfair” that seven footballers from an S-League team in 2007 were charged and convicted for match-fixing in Singapore in 2008 but were not issued lifetime bans – or any ban at all – by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for their crimes, said former sports journalist Jose Raymond on Friday (20 Aug).
Mr Raymond, who was previously the chairman of Singapore People’s Party (SPP), has called for an explanation to be given on this matter.
This is compared to the lifetime ban imposed on former national footballer K Kannan in 1995 after he was convicted, fined, and jailed for conspiring to fix a Malaysia Cup Match by bribing then-national goalkeeper David Lee to concede a goal and receiving a reward for the bribe.
In the statement on Thursday (19 Aug), FAS took issue with Mr Raymond’s attachment of only the last two paragraphs of the letter sent to Mr Kannan, leaving out the rest, which they said gave the public an “incorrect impression” that he was sent a letter just for playing “social football”.
FAS said that the unseen second and third paragraphs of that letter stated that the Association has been informed of Mr Kannan’s involvement in football management and football activities, including playing the sport, at the Singapore Indian Association.
“Such an incorrect statement has led to unfair negative reactions against the FAS from the public,” said the Association.
FAS explained that it had responded to a complaint about Mr Kannan “promoting football, in the running of football activities and in the organisation of various tournaments at the Indian Association”.
“He was also alleged to have been involved as a referee during these tournaments,” the Association added.
FAS not consistent with punishments: Jose Raymond
In his latest post following the statement from FAS, Mr Raymond pointed out the inconsistent treatment of punishments doled out by the Association.
The seven players from Liaoning Guangyuan in 2007 faced 24 counts of accepting a total of S$27,950 in bribes to intentionally lose six S-League matches that year, he noted, adding that they were fined and jailed in 2008.
However, as Mr Raymond pointed out, none of them were placed on the FAS list of banned players and officials in Singapore.
The seven players who were convicted in Singapore Court are Zhao Zhipeng, Li Xuebai, Li Zheng, Dong Lei, Peng Zhiyi, Tong Di, and Wang Lin.
It is noteworthy that the first player to be convicted, Zhao Zhipeng, was sentenced to seven months in jail but the sentence was reduced to five months upon appeal. The other six players were jailed between four to five months and were also fined.
“Despite their convictions, these players have not been placed on the list of banned players in Singapore, or globally, which was the fate which all other players face,” said Mr Raymond, adding that at least two of the players returned to China immediately after their sentences and had continued to play for clubs there.
Mr Raymond also noted that while the incident with the seven players happened before the tenure of the current administration of the FAS, current president Lim Kia Tong was part of the leadership back then – having been appointed as Vice President in 2007.
“There are players who have been on the list of banned players for almost 30 years now,” he wrote.
“And yet research is now showing that the FAS administration was not consistent with the treatment of punishments.”
Mr Raymond concluded his post saying, “This is unfair and there needs to be an explanation as to why the 7 Liaoning players were not slapped with life bans like so many others on that list.”