SINGAPORE: National team coach Fandi Ahmad has apologised for his comments made to a Sikh reporter during a pre-match press conference last week, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said on Thursday (Sep 13).
"The FAS regrets that Fandi Ahmad’s comments during the pre-match press conference on Sep 6 for the match between Singapore and Mauritius have upset members of the Sikh community," FAS said in a statement posted on its website.
Both Fandi and FAS have contacted the New Paper reporter Dilenjit Singh and the Sikh Advisory Board to "explain, apologise and clarify" the matter, the association said.
"Mr Singh gracefully accepted our explanation and apology. Our discussion with the Sikh Advisory Board has also revealed that the comments could be hurtful to the Sikh community even though they were not made with any malicious intent."
A Change.org petition was started on Thursday calling on the national coach to apologise. According to the petition, which has around 290 supporters, Fandi made the remark after Mr Singh posed a question about players' skill and technique during the press conference at Oasia Hotel.
“You said that in terms of skill and technique, some of our rivals in the region have overtaken us. How would that affect you wanting to play the good football which you are known for," Mr Singh was said to have asked, according to the petition.
Fandi reportedly replied: "We have not all bad ... I can’t condemn anybody because our system is different from others. I can’t say it also, as it is against the Government.
"You know if I say it loud, you know, you will be seeing your turban would be gone. Seriously bro. I cannot say, I want to tell you. But later private I will tell you."
The petition, which was started by Harvinder Singh, also added that Fandi's comments were followed by laughter.
"What was also troubling was that there was a burst of laughter after the inappropriate comment was made," it said.
"Even more disturbing was the fact that the media in the room did not make any mention or report about it despite it being a media conference."