Singaporeans only want to bet on football

SINGAPORE - In the wake of the Republic's involvement in the recent wave of match-fixing headlines around the world, former England and Manchester United defender Paul Parker has described Singaporeans as people who don't take football seriously.

Writing in his weekly blog on eurosport.yahoo.com, Parker said he wasn't surprised that Europol's match-fixing investigation centred on a cartel in Singapore.

Parker, who is also a columnist with The New Paper, said that football here was merely "a vehicle for betting".

Speaking to TNP last Monday, Parker admitted to making those points, although he claimed his views were "embellished, to make it more hard-hitting".

Clarifying his comments by referencing the S-League, which has struggled to attract fans over the last few years, Parker, who has been living here for two years and is a football pundit with Fox Sports, said: "There is no great interest in the S-League. There are only a few hundred people at the matches and it isn't promoted enough.

"Many people are into it simply for betting purposes."

On his blog, published last Tuesday, Parker wrote: "In Singapore nobody takes football seriously as a sport, because if anything unusual happens they ask if money has changed hands.

"They like the Premier League when the goals fly in, but you can forget about an in-depth appreciation of the game."

When asked what he meant by an "in-depth appreciation of the game", Parker said: "Over here, it's about only the high-profile players and the high-profile teams.

"By that, I mean Manchester United and Liverpool. It's all and only about those two teams.

"If there's a game between Aston Villa and QPR at midnight - a match with massive implications between two relegation battlers - no one will care about it.

"No one will stay up to watch it, unless they're real football fans or if they're betting on it.

"But if it was a game between United and Liverpool, even after United have already won the title, everyone would tune in - because it's those two teams.

"Fans here are interested only in what goes with those two clubs. If it was just purely football, no one cares."

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