Suzuki Cup: 4 Indonesia players out of final after breaching Covid-19 safety measures

Elkan Baggott celebrating his goal on Dec 19, 2021. He was one of the players who breached Covid-19 measures. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Down 4-0 from the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup finals, Indonesia's woes were further compounded when four of their players were ruled out of the second leg on Saturday (Jan 1) after they were "found to have breached the controlled itinerary" in place for the tournament.

Shortly before the match against Thailand at the National Stadium, national sports governing body Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced in a press statement that the quartet of defenders Rizky Ridho Ramadhani and Elkan Baggott - Rizky started the first leg on Wednesday while Elkan came off the bench - and unused substitutes Victor Igbonefo and Rizky Dwi Febrianto would not play in the second leg.

Indonesia eventually lost 6-2 to Thailand on aggregate after a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

The statement said that the Football Association of Singapore and the Asean Football Federation disciplinary committee confirmed the players had left their hotel one evening for up to two hours in breach of the arrangements.

Investigations began immediately and the Asean Football Federation (AFF) disciplinary committee was convened. After a thorough investigation, it was decided on Friday that the players had breached the controlled itinerary and would not participate in the match.

Singapore Sport Institute chief, Dr Su Chun Wei, said: "We host events like the Suzuki Cup 2020 under strict safe management measures to protect the participants of the tournament and the community.

"We had emphasised this to all teams competing in the Suzuki Cup 2020 and worked hard to provide a safe environment for the football players and other participants.

"The four players breached the regulations and put others' safety at risk. We will therefore be taking action against them. SportSG thanks the AFF for working with us closely on this matter."

To protect the health of participating players, match officials and the wider community, all 10 participating teams and match officials have been placed on a controlled itinerary for the entire duration of the competition.

Under the controlled itinerary, team members and match officials can only travel between their assigned hotels, training venues and competition venues. They cannot go anywhere or engage in any activity that is beyond the itinerary.

While Indonesia coach Shin Tae-yong thanked the Singapore government, AFF and the FAS for hosting the tournament in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, he expressed extreme disappointment that four of his players were made unavailable. 

At the post-match press conference, he said: “Only after breakfast this morning, we were told the four players will not be able to participate in the second leg.

“The four players went out just to buy essentials such as shampoo and soap. We were informed of the penalty, which I totally understand. However, given the fact we have been locked in for one month, it is understandable we run out of such essentials.”

The 51-year-old then pointed out issues with their accommodation, sharing that his team did not have proper rest as the two floors they were staying at had other hotel guests, which he claimed was not what was agreed upon.

He added that there were disturbances caused by drunk wedding guests on weekends. 

“Moving forward, these issues need to be properly addressed to ensure the well-being of our players to play good matches in the tournament,” said Shin.

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