The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) disciplinary committee yesterday reached a verdict for the brawl between National Football League (NFL) Division One clubs Yishun Sentek Mariners and Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (Safsa) on Nov 12 last year.
Champions Yishun were fined $5,000 and will start the defence of their NFL title with a five-point deduction. The club will face an additional $5,000 fine and five-point penalty if they get into further disciplinary trouble this year.
Eight Yishun players were hit with fines ranging from $300 to $1,000 and suspensions between four and 15 months.
Two players received the harshest punishment of a 15-month suspension and a $1,000 fine.
Safsa, on the other hand, received no sanctions but three of their players were punished. One player was let off with a stern warning, while two others were suspended for four months and fined $300 each.
All suspensions will take effect from the first fixture of the 2018 NFL season, with players having to pay their fines before being allowed to return to action. The FAS has yet to announce the kick-off date and competition rules.
"We decided this year to take a harsher stance on issues of violence. This was one of the worst cases that we've seen, and it is not good for Singapore football," K. Bala Chandran, chairman of the FAS disciplinary committee, told The Straits Times yesterday.
"We are looking to make an example of this and hopefully people take note and behave themselves. If similar or worse cases happen, we may have to consider expelling the club."
The disciplinary committee's verdict seems in some ways to be even harsher than that for the fracas between S-League sides Beijing Guoan and Young Lions in 2010.
The incident saw a total of 16 players - 10 from Beijing and six from what was effectively the Republic's national Under-23 side - fined between $1,000 and $3,000, with suspensions ranging from four to 12 months.
Both clubs were also fined $5,000 and docked five points.
"Obviously we are disappointed. The disciplinary committee chairman said this was to make an example of us, but my personal view of the verdict is that it won't solve or prevent further instances from happening," said Yishun team manager Ronald Lafeber.
"We will consider appealing on behalf of the club and a few of our players, but it will depend on the conversations that we will have over the next few days."
The FAS disciplinary committee convened on five occasions before arriving at a verdict yesterday.
Other cases of football violence in Singapore
2000: Tanjong Pagar's Senegalese striker Nicodeme Boucher was hit with a one-year suspension for assaulting SAFFC defender Tan Kim Leng in the showers at Queenstown Stadium following a match. Tan was left with severe bruises on his face.
2003: Shariff Abdul Samat of Sembawang Rangers was suspended for nine months and fined $500 for punching Geylang United's Peter Bennett, who suffered a broken nose.
2007: Tampines Rovers striker Noh Alam Shah was sent off for his assault on fellow Singapore international and SAFFC defender Daniel Bennett during the Singapore Cup final. He was fined $2,000 and received a year-long international ban before it was reduced to seven months.
2010: Players from the Courts Young Lions and Chinese club Beijing Guoan clashed in a free-for-all towards the end of an S-League game in September. A total of 16 players (10 from Beijing, six from Young Lions) were fined between $1,000 and $3,000, and seven among them were also handed bans ranging from four months to one year. Both clubs had five points deducted and were fined $5,000 each.
2011: Ottawa Serpent players Muhammad Ismail Kajarkaswat and Annuar Zuhaili Rasidin were handed a one-year ban each, for assaulting Gambas Avenue's Benedict Chua after an NFL Division 3 match at Serangoon Stadium.
2014: NFL Division 2 side Bishan Barx were handed a five-point deduction and a $1,000 fine, following a mass brawl after their 3-2 loss to Siglap CSC. Seven players were hauled up and banned between five matches and a year. Four among them were also hit with $500 fines.
2016: A Singapore FA Cup match between Safsa and Balestier United on Oct 1 was halted by the referee in the 88th minute when a fight broke out with Safsa leading 2-1. It was later abandoned. Balestier were banned from participating in the FA Cup for two years and fined $1,000. Five of their players received bans of various lengths with the longest ending on Dec 31, 2017. Three were also fined $500 each.