Football Association Of Singapore Allegedly Asked Referee Examiner To Change Score
As if the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) did not have enough problems to deal with already.
Ever since Lim Kia Tong took over the reigns at FAS following a controversy-filled election, a plethora of PR disasters have greeted his arrival.
First, its Communications Manager was issued a warning letter after punching an external media vendor.
Then, the Men’s National Team failed to win a crucial tie against Taiwan, falling 2-1 at home.
To round off a miserable evening, our junior U15 squad conceded 12 goals (yes, 12, not a typo) without reply against their Indonesian counterparts.
But it seems Lim’s problems are only starting to mount up.
Veteran sports journalist and football coach Suresh Nair recently dropped a major bombshell in the Malaysian press – a referee assessor had resigned after being ordered to “change the marks of a refereeing team of four match-officials”.
Both referees and assistant referees from the FAS are routinely graded on their performance by a select panel of assessors comprising of former top-level match officials.
On a scale of four to ten, they are expected to score at least eight points.
During the ill-fated day, the referee assessor, who cannot be named, was told by the Football Association of Singapore’s Referee Department (FASRD) to amend his grade for the refereeing team on duty.
In the email correspondence that followed, the ex-FIFA assistant referee became furious, threatening to resign if his professional credentials were questioned. He even sarcastically offered to “change the marks to the maximum 10 (if FAS so wished)”.
It is understood that the assessor refused to back down from FASRD and later followed through with his threat to quit.
Worryingly, this is not the first time something like this has supposedly happened.
In fact, such unethical behavior has been going on for awhile now, according to a fellow senior assessor who declined to be named:
I’m not surprised to hear this because FASRD has been doing this rather recklessly for some time. It just reflects on the honesty and credibility of those running the show and I must say it’s very depressing.
This allegations occur despite an unnamed retired FIFA referee stating it was “close to impossible” to change an assessor’s grades. Such an exception will only be made when there’s “overwhelming evidence of wrong-doings with accurate video evidence”, he added.
How can they simply ignore the grades and over-rule the appointed assessor, whose job is to do a neutral judgment of the match officials? This is tantamount to cheating or fixing the grades.
A former FAS referee MustShareNews spoke to blamed the situation on “horrid” management:
The situation is absolutely dire due to the clueless management. They have the facilities, they have an exhaustive curriculum, they have experienced trainers to impart knowledge, and ironically, they uphold strict standards when it comes the referees’ regular fitness tests.
The people at the very top, however, have no idea what they are doing. Some of the instructors are extremely toxic people and have no qualms manipulating or exerting their dominance over less senior referees.
He quit the organisation several years ago after discovering the “lengthy amount of red tape” and “inefficient speed in which things are being done”.
Another retired FIFA referee agreed, claiming that ‘fixing’ incidents occur due to the formation of cliques.
The way the assessment of referees, which determines future promotion, is done is like a ‘pasar malam’. If you’re in the right camp, you can get your marks changed! Bottom line, it’s going to the dogs, believe me, because of poor overall management.
Seriousness of allegations
While exam-fixing is a serious offence in itself, the circumstances surrounding the incident were perhaps an additional cause of concern.
Referees with the FAS are classified into four ‘tiers’:
- Class 3 – in charge of mostly friendlies and school games
- Class 2 – in charge of National Football League Division 2 and government league matches
- Class 1 – in charge of National Football League, Prime League and S. League matches
- FIFA – in charge of S. League, Prime League, and FIFA competitions
The match where the incident reportedly occurred was a cup tie between S. League club Hougang United and Philippines’ Ceres-Negros FC. The provenance of the two teams meant that the fixture was a top-level one and could only have been officiated by Class 1 referees.
In fact, the referee that day, Sukhbir Singh was an experienced, FIFA certified referee.
Singh has, however, gained a notorious reputation for creating controversy in his matches. He famously sent off three players from TRFC in the 2017 Community Shield and earned the ire of S. League managers and even international fans with his refereeing decisions.
Could his errors on that fateful day lead to a damning verdict from the assessor, one that ultimately required altering?
Your guess is as good as ours, but one thing’s for sure – this was not a casual friendly for trainee referees to earn their badges. The alleged order of misconduct happened at the highest level of Singapore football, a glaring fact that makes Nair’s accusations even more pressing.
Under the radar
Coincidentally, Nair had earlier accused the FAS Council of leaking a confidential resignation letter from TRFC chairman Krishna Ramachandra to the press in a bid to “embarrass” him.
Krishna had reportedly endured a contentious relationship with current FAS Vice President Tan Hock Seng after the former replaced him at TRFC in 2015.
He is stepping down as the “demands of his work – Krishna is a lawyer and managing director of a law firm – meant he could no longer fulfil his role (with Tampines) at the level of intensity that is needed”.
Nair was served a cease-and-desist letter for his efforts.
Unlike the Tampines affair, however, FAS has not issued a formal reply to his exam-fixing allegations.
Would the incident have come to light if the assessor had remained silent on his way out?
While these allegations might come as a shock to the public, those in the know seemed unsurprised. Many seemed aware of FAS’s past instances of ‘fixing’. and perhaps fittingly, an insider was the one who blew the whistle eventually.
For those not affiliated with the FAS, the latest accusations only makes our concerns more relevant:
What other worrying behaviors and practices within FAS are we not aware of?
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