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Sat, Sep 11, 2010
The New Paper
'It's a stain on S-League'

By Lim Say Heng and David Lee

Young Lions and Beijing Guoan in football brawl
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» Beijing Guo'an apologizes for Young Lions fracas
» Young Lions apologise for "unacceptable" brawl

THE worst on-field incident in the history of the S-League.

That is how some football officials are describing the events of Tuesday night when a violent free-for-all broke out in the match between the Young Lions and Chinese side Beijing Guoan Talent.

The match was abandoned by referee Zaid Hussein in the 89th minute after the mass brawl - the second time it happened in the match - got out of control, resulting in two players being taken to hospital.

Said Geylang United head coach Mike Wong, who witnessed the events at the Jalan Besar Stadium: "I was disgusted with what I saw. It is disappointing for a professional league to have come to this level."

His sentiments were echoed by Balestier Khalsa vice-chairman S Thavaneson.

Said the veteran football man: "This is a terrible indictment for local football, especially since this is not the first time Beijing Guoan have got into trouble this season.

"There was a free-for-all when we (Balestier) faced Beijing in March this year, when their substitutes came from the bench to join in.

"The match wasn't abandoned. There was a disciplinary hearing after that, but I don't think there was any action taken against these players."

Thavaneson added: "Here we are, having dwindling crowd support for the league. We don't need to have all this happen."

But the strongest condemnation came from a man who witnessed, first-hand, the last and only time an S-League match was abandoned - former Woodlands Wellington and Tampines Rovers official R Vengadasalam.

That incident took place in 2007, when Woodlands walked off the pitch while playing against his Tampines side, angered by the referee's decision to award a red card against one of their players.

Said Venga, currently a football pundit: "The 2007 incident was caused by the (former) Woodlands chairman instigating his team to walk off the field.

"On Tuesday night, two teams fought until the referee had to stop the game. There have been free-for-all fights in matches before. We've all seen them, but they usually are dispersed and the errant players sent off.

"But here, everybody got involved and it went so out of control, the match had to be abandoned. This is a stain on the S-League. Serious action has to be taken or we will be a laughing stock."

2007: Points docked, club fined

For their part in the 2007 walk-out, Woodlands were fined $30,000 and docked six points.

Francis Gomez, then the club's chairman, was fined $10,000 and barred from all games until the end of that year.

Under S-League rules, Woodlands could have been fined $50,000 and expelled from the league.

Venga believes that the book should be thrown at the guilty parties in the latest fracas.

"In fact, I think this incident is bad enough to warrant a police investigation. These players were rioting on the pitch, in my view," said Venga, who was an S-League official for 14 years.

Yesterday, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) issued a statement, saying that it is investigating the incident and has received reports from the match commissioner and match officials.

 

>> Next: Hearing in two weeks

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