SINGPAORE — Addressing the Young Lions’ frustrating 0-7 defeat to Malaysia at the recently concluded SEA Games, Bernard Tan, the acting president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), acknowledged that FAS “could do better” and assured that they would thoroughly investigate the matter through the review they recently initiated, “leaving no stone unturned”.
During a recent episode of the Heart of the Matter podcast, Mr Tan responded to sports journalist Philip Goh’s comment, which highlighted the public’s demand for greater accountability.
Goh sought to demonstrate his understanding of public sentiment concerning the use of public funds. He stated, “They want to know how the money is being spent. To them, S$19 million is a significant sum. It’s taxpayers’ money, right?” – referring to the grant amount of S$19 million that Sports Singapore gave to FAS in 2022.
“(So) they want to see some results coming from there. And if the results are not forthcoming, they want to see someone stand up and be accountable for it. They just want someone to say: “Look, I didn’t do my job properly”.”
In his response, Tan pointed out that he has been in his current position for eight months.
“And if you ask me, should people be accountable for the results that happen on the field? They should … I think we can do better.”
“And certainly, after the review that we’ve currently launched, we’re going to leave no stone unturned.”
Mr Tan acknowledged the frustration of fans and recognized the intense scrutiny and criticism faced by the FAS. He saw this challenging situation as an opportunity for introspection and change.
“I asked people for patience to wait for the report to come out,” he said.
“I have a sense that there will be serious recommendations for change. And I’m optimistic that we will make some progress.”
While Mr Goh commented that The Malaysians) are continuing to progress but Singapore are regressing, Mr Bernard Tan did not refute his observation, but made excused that the younger age groups have not been doing well in tournaments and the need to understanding the underlying reasons.
Regarding the 7-0 loss in the SEA Games, Mr Tan expressed disbelief and mentioned that some players couldn’t explain what went wrong on the field.
He stated that the technical team needs time for self-reflection and to thoroughly analyze the situation.
The FAS announced the formation of a review panel to assess the team’s performance, which will be led by former national head coach Jita Singh, and it includes three FAS council members: former national footballer and SEA Games assistant chef de mission Lim Tong Hai, former national captain Razali Saad, and football academy coach and founder Harman Ali.
Mr Tan called for patience and assured that the findings and recommendations of the panel will be made public.
Fiery debate rage on, questioning FAS leadership competency
In the comment section of CNA’s Facebook post, a fiery debate unfolded as netizens questioned the leadership of FAS for their failure to address longstanding issues within the Singapore football team.
Many pointed out that Mr Tan seemed to be blaming the players instead of holding the top management accountable. They emphasized that the real stone left unturned is the FAS management itself.
A netizen raised a valid point, emphasizing that, ultimately, it is the management who should be held responsible for the team’s performance.
“In fact, the management bears the larger portion of the accountability and responsibility! Leaving no stone unturned, this should also include everyone in the management.”
“Lack of accountability for top management”
Some pointed out flaws in the current system, highlighting the lack of accountability for top management, and called for the FAS to analyze international football structures, prioritize meaningful change, involve individuals connected to the sport, and shift away from bureaucratic approaches to actively promote and participate in soccer.
“The FAS management is the biggest stone but not unturned”
Despite the FAS acting president’s commitment to conducting a comprehensive review of the SG football team’s performance, some netizens insisted on holding the FAS management accountable and advocated for a complete overhaul:
Some urge Bernard Tan and the FAS top management to resign honourably
A comment strongly urged Bernard Tan and the FAS top management team to take appropriate action and resign honourably, emphasizing that repeating the same mistakes over the past decade will not lead to improvements.
“Don’t expect to make improvements if you keep making the same mistakes for the last 10-15 years. Bold changes are needed. With due respect and without prejudice, the current management is definitely not the team to get us there.”
Mr Tan issues apology for blunt Instagram exchange after being called out to resign from FAS
On 12 May, Mr Tan found himself having to apologize for a harsh retort he gave to a Singaporean football enthusiast who had demanded his resignation on Instagram, suggesting a direct confrontation.
The online community was stunned and infuriated when Tan’s response became viral, particularly among Singaporean football followers.
In light of the negative backlash and understanding that feelings were still running high, Tan quickly removed his comment and expressed regret for his poor choice of words.
The official fan club of Singapore’s national football team, SingaBrigade, posted the screenshot on their Facebook page, voicing their astonishment at the acting president’s reaction to a disgruntled Singaporean fan’s respectful and non-offensive comment on his Instagram post.
Members of the group voiced their worries about the future of the sport if those in authority failed to take accountability for their conduct.