SINGAPORE - The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Friday (March 18) announced it has lifted lifetime bans on former national player K. Kannan and referee Thiru Rajamanickam.
In a media statement, FAS said its council came to the decision after receiving written appeals from the two in 2021, and that their bans had been lifted on Tuesday.
Rajamanickam was banned in 1994 and Kannan a year later, both for activities related to match-fixing.
FAS President Lim Kia Tong said: "In reviewing the two appeals, the council had deliberated extensively on the issues and key factors surrounding both cases.
"This decision... does not represent a softening stance on football corruption by the FAS. We remain steadfast in our unwavering stand that the scourge of corruption has no place in football and will not be tolerated in any form.
"Any player or official found guilty of such an offence can expect to be dealt with to the full extent of the FAS Constitution."
Lim noted that both Kannan, 60, and Rajamanickam, 70, had their appeals to lift their bans "rejected a few times", which demonstrated the strong stand FAS has taken against match-fixing and corruption.
Kannan was slapped with a lifetime ban from football activities in 1995 after he was convicted of conspiring with two other individuals to bribe a Singapore player with $80,000 in a match against Perlis in a Malaysia League match in May 1994.
He was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $40,000 for the joint conspiracy charge, and to 18 months' imprisonment and ordered to pay a penalty of $5,000 for corruptly receiving gratification.
Rajamanickam, a former Fifa referee, was handed his lifetime ban from all football activities and was deregistered from the FAS referees' list in 1994 after he was sentenced to eight months' jail and fined $1,000 for accepting $1,000 as a bribe from a bookmaker.
Rajamanickam was to arrange for the appointed Malaysian referee to be lenient to the Singapore team in a Malaysia League match with Kelantan in April 1994.
Kannan said: "My family and I would like to express our gratitude to my lawyers at Eugene Thuraisingam LLP and Jose Raymond for helping me in my appeal.
"They were sympathetic and went out of their way to help me. I will always be grateful to everyone for their support, even in my darkest hours.
"Football has always been my life, and I will do whatever I can to contribute back to society in a meaningful way."
Rajamanickam, who was one of Singapore's top referees and was the man in the middle for an exhibition match between Liverpool and Arsenal at the National Stadium in 1991, and the SEA Games football final at the same venue in 1993, also expressed gratitude.
"They have given me a lifeline by lifting the ban," he told ST. "I feel relieved and grateful, and my family is also very happy.
"I will do what I can do contribute to the development of soccer, be it in refereeing, coaching youth development, or in any other way."
In its statement, FAS said its council "adhered strictly to the criteria and requirements of the FAS Constitution", namely the circumstances including the nature and extent of the violation, the punishment meted out by the court and the character and the contributions of Kannan and Rajamanickam.
It added that the council had noted that both men had each had already served over 26 years of suspension, on top of their respective court-imposed sentences including jail terms, and that both have also kept clean records since.
Kannan and Rajamanickam will be required carry out programmes and activities, in person or virtually or via publication, to support anti-corruption drives and engagements within six months of their bans being lifted, said FAS.