SINGAPORE - The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Thursday (July 28) announced the adjournment of the disciplinary committee hearing involving the Lion City Sailors by a week, mere hours before it was due to take place.
This was after the Sailors, who won last year’s Singapore Premier League (SPL), made the request “in order to investigate the facts before taking a position and presenting their case in respect of the charges”, said K. Bala Chandran, chairman of the DC.
He added in the statement: “Given the short notice both teams had been given and their right to be heard, the DC made the decision to adjourn the hearing.”
The FAS had handed down charges to both clubs on Monday evening, about 24 hours after their SPL match which saw a fracas break out near the end. Both clubs had until 6pm on Wednesday to provide written responses.
At the end of Sunday’s match, Sailors coach Kim Do-hoon and Tampines assistant coach Mustafic Fahrudin were involved in physical altercations.
The former appeared to headbutt the latter, who later confronted him and appeared to have his hands around his neck. They were each charged with violent conduct by the FAS.
Both clubs were also charged over the conduct of their respective teams, while the Sailors faced a separate charge over the conduct of their spectators.
The adjournment did not go down well with Tampines.
Stags chairman Desmond Ong said his club had complied “with all the procedural requirements by Wednesday evening” and were “surprised” an adjournment was granted.
Ong, a partner at Solitaire LLP, added: “Leaving aside the merits of the application by Sailors to adjourn the hearing, we are shocked by the way the decision was communicated to us.”
He said the club had only found out through an FAS media statement issued at 3.44pm, adding they only received official notification via e-mail at 8.05pm.
“Furthermore, we were not informed how or when Sailors communicated with the tribunal regarding the proposed adjournment as we were not made privy to such communication,” said Ong.
“We were also not afforded the opportunity to accept or reject the possibility of such an adjournment.”
Ong said Tampines have written to the FAS asking for an “urgent explanation” to these concerns.
At the launch of the Sailors’ training facility at Mattar Road on Thursday, chief executive officer Chew Chun-Liang told ST they had requested the postponement to pore through evidence relating to the charges.
“The FAS DC has agreed, and we appreciate their decision that will allow us more time to examine the evidence arising from our internal investigations that include identifying and interviewing witnesses, as well as gathering video and photographic evidence,” he said.
Chew added the club “regret that our fans had to witness the incidents... that do not aid the cause of Singapore football” and that they wished to refocus on defending their SPL title.
The Sailors beat Tampines 2-1 to open a five-point gap between them and second-placed Albirex Niigata, whom they play tonight.
The DC adjournment means that Kim, who was present at the launch on Thursday, will be allowed to lead his team from the touchline in a game which may prove pivotal in the title race this season.
In previous cases of violent conduct involving local coaches and players, the FAS had meted out various punishments including fines as high as $10,000 and suspensions ranging from several matches to as long as 15 months.
The FAS disciplinary committee consists of a panel of members who oversee all disciplinary cases presented before it, as and when required.
All of its proceedings, acts, resolutions, findings, and financial penalties for such cases are made independently, without any involvement by the FAS Council or its secretariat.