Football: Former Singapore international K. Kannan appeals against lifetime ban

Before his conviction, Kannan (second from left) was an accomplished striker who represented Singapore at the 1981 and 1983 SEA Games. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former national footballer K. Kannan has appealed to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to have his lifetime ban from football activities lifted.

The 59-year-old was jailed and fined in 1995 for football-related corruption.

Last Friday (Aug 13), he submitted a written appeal to the FAS through his lawyers from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP. This is his fifth attempt after previous appeals to the FAS and Asian Football Confederation from 1999 to 2002 were rejected.

Kannan said: "I'm happy that there are people who still think of me and who care for me.

"I'm already quite old and my best days in football are over. I've made a mistake and have paid for it very dearly and I just want to move on with my life."

Former journalist and ex-opposition politician Jose Raymond had assembled the legal team to help Kannan's appeal after a friend told him about a letter that the former player had received from the FAS in August last year after "he was spotted playing social football with his friends", said Raymond in his Facebook post.

The letter, signed by FAS president Lim Kia Tong, stated that Kannan was "permanently suspended from taking part in football management or membership or the activities of the association" on April 18, 1995 following his conviction. It also said that he is aware the ban extends to "all football-related activities".

However, Kannan's legal team is disputing that Article 75.8 of the FAS constitution limits the suspension to "football management, membership, or the activities of the FAS", and as the Indian Association (IA) - where he was playing football - is not an FAS affiliate member, Kannan should not be prevented from playing and assisting in football-related events in IA.

In addition, they are requesting that the life ban be overturned, as Kannan wants "to try and give back to the footballing fraternity and to pass on the love of the game to younger footballers".

The appeal is also backed by testimonials from former national players Malek Awab, Jai Prakash and E. Manimohan.

Responding to queries, the FAS clarified that the letter had also said that it had been informed that Kannan had been involved in "football management and football activities (including as a player) at the Indian Association". This was a "clear violation" of the ban and the letter was sent because he was found to have been involved in the mentioned activities following the complaint.

Noting that Kannan's appeal to the AFC and three previous appeals to the FAS were rejected after being "carefully considered by the presiding FAS Council", the association said he is "not unfamiliar with the ban".

The FAS said: "Thus, when the complaint was received, it was incumbent on the FAS Council at that time to write to K. Kannan to inform and to remind him of the ban on football-related activities imposed on him."

The association said it has received his latest appeal and "the matter is currently undergoing the due process".

Before his conviction, Kannan was an accomplished striker who represented Singapore at the 1981 and 1983 SEA Games, winning a silver at the latter edition.

He played for Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the M-League and Malaysia Cup, winning the golden boot in 1987 and the league and cup double in 1989 for the Malaysian side.

In 1995, he was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $40,000 on a joint conspiracy charge, and to 18 months' imprisonment and fine of $5,000 for bribery. In total, Kannan was jailed for no less than 14 months and was released in 1997.

There are currently 16 players or officials serving life bans. There is one reported case of a successful appeal against permanent suspension in 2009, when the FAS lifted Australian former player Abbas Saad's ban after an appeal to the council. In 1995, Abbas was convicted of corruption for match-fixing, fined $50,000 and handed a global football ban, which included a lifetime suspension from football-related activities in Singapore.

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