Football: Police investigating FA Cup brawl between Safsa and Balestier United Recreation Club

A brawl broke out during a Football Association Cup first-round match between Balestier United Recreation Club (in grey and white stripes) and Safsa (in green) at the Gombak Stadium.
A brawl broke out during a Football Association Cup first-round match between Balestier United Recreation Club (in grey and white stripes) and Safsa (in green) at the Gombak Stadium. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

FAS is also looking into fight that took place during an FA Cup game, condemns violence

The reputation of Singapore football took another blow over the weekend after a brawl broke out during a Football Association Cup first-round match involving amateur sides on Saturday night.

The game between Balestier United Recreation Club and Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (Safsa) at the Gombak Stadium was halted by the referee in the 88th minute when a fight broke out with Safsa leading 2-1. The match was later abandoned.

This occurred after each side had a player dismissed. Safsa's Fuad Ramli was sent off for kicking an opponent while Balestier's Masnashzreen Masturi for allegedly punching Fuad.

A heated argument between the Balestier players and Safsa captain Syafiq Siraj, who did not play and was watching from the sidelines, followed and the latter was then chased into the stands.

He later uploaded a video, recorded by a bystander, of the incident on Facebook. It showed a man in a grey shirt, allegedly Syafiq, sprinting across a running track to evade a group of men in grey-striped football jerseys, before they caught him and started hitting him.

In the accompanying post - which was removed early yesterday afternoon - Syafiq claimed that he was outnumbered and beaten while on the floor, and that his mother and team-mate Faris Azienuddin tried to shield him from the punches and kicks.

The attacks were eventually broken up by other Safsa players and officials. Police officers later arrived on the scene.

Syafiq, who has played in the semi-professional Prime League for Warriors FC and Tampines Rovers, said that he and his mother were taken to the hospital. They filed a police report.

A police spokesman confirmed that investigations are ongoing. Attempts to contact players and officials from both sides were unsuccessful.

There is a history of tempers flaring between both teams.

When Safsa defeated Balestier 3-1 in the Island Wide League final last month, the losers finished the match with 10 men after striker Zamri Kamal was shown the red card for stamping on the Safsa goalkeeper, noted a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) online report.

When contacted yesterday, an FAS spokesman told The Straits Times: "We would like to reiterate that the FAS does not condone violence of any form, and the alleged behaviour has no place in football.

"We understand that a police report has been lodged, and will provide the police with all cooperation and assistance necessary.

"In addition, we are also conducting our own investigation and stern action will be taken against any offenders.

"As investigations are under way, it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this time."

This is not the first time that such incidents have occurred in the lower tiers of Singapore football.

In 2014, National Football League Division (NFL) 2 side Bishan Barx were handed a five-point deduction and a $1,000 fine for their part in a mass brawl after a loss to Siglap CSC on June 7.

Another NFL Division Three match between Dare to Dream FC and Newton Heath in May 2012 was abandoned in the 38th minute after a player spat at referee Ezra Aripin.

A lack of discipline has also struck at the professional level.

Sixteen players were fined and suspended for their involvement in the mass brawl during an S-League match between Young Lions and Beijing Guoan in 2010.

In another high-profile controversy a year later, match officials were forced to abandon the tie between Hougang United and defending S-League champions Etoile FC before kick-off, after players from both teams started fighting during the warm-up session.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline 'Police investigating brawl'. Print Edition | Subscribe