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FAS acknowledges error made by officials in Lion City Sailors-Tampines Rovers SPL match

FAS acknowledges error made by officials in Lion City Sailors-Tampines Rovers SPL match

Tampines Rovers' Yasir Hanapi (right) in action during his side's Singapore Premier League match against the Lion City Sailors at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Mar 13, 2022. (File photo: Facebook/AIA Singapore Premier League)

SINGAPORE: The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has acknowledged a mistake made by match officials during last weekend’s Singapore Premier League (SPL) fixture between the Lion City Sailors and Tampines Rovers.

Trailing 1-0 in the 68th minute of the match at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday (Mar 13), Tampines looked to have snatched an equaliser through Firdaus Kasman.

The goal was quickly chalked off for offside, however, to the anger of Tampines players and the bemusement of commentators.

It was disallowed as the match officials adjudged that Tampines captain Yasir Hanapi had “interfered by making an obvious action which clearly impacts the ability of an opponent to play the ball”, FAS Referees Department head Nazeer Hussain said in a statement on Tuesday.

While Yasir was in the goalmouth area as the strike from Firdaus flew in from the edge of the box, he was in a position behind Lion City Sailors goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and made no attempt to play the ball as he moved out of its way.

The error proved to be costly as Tampines eventually lost the match to the defending champions 1-0.

“In our review of the match, while the match officials had gotten the majority of the decisions correct, they had, in this case, incorrectly interpreted the law and are rightfully regretful over their respective errors in judgement,” Nazeer said.

“I have personally reached out to Tampines Rovers chairman Desmond Ong to formally acknowledge and apologise for the match officials’ mistake.”

Nazeer said that FAS is already in the process of implementing video assistant referee, or VAR, technology in the SPL.

“As part of the FAS Referees Department's long-term objective to have our match officials make consistent and, more importantly, correct decisions, we have also, since late 2021, kick-started the planning stages to implement the video assistant referee technology in the near future for the SPL competition,” he said.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, Ong said that he had "made (his) peace with the events and result of Sunday’s game" and had decided to refrain from commenting on the matter.

However, he decided to share his thoughts since the FAS statement had referenced him by name, he said.

Ong said that the Sailors were worthy winners, and thanked the club for maintaining "a dignified silence" since the match. He added that the majority of the Sailors' fans have "been balanced and considered" as well.

"FAS, and in particular the Referees Committee, have been quick to respond to the public outcry over Sunday’s events. We appreciate the brave and unprecedented step of issuing the statement that they did," he said.

"Our thoughts go out to the officials currently in the eye of the storm. We never doubted their integrity and we hope they can bounce back and continue to contribute to our game."

In his statement, Nazeer also urged fans not to harass referees.

“There are multiple factors at play in any match, especially in one where the stakes may be high,” Nazeer said.

“While this does not excuse any mistakes made, the FAS does not condone any personal attacks or doxxing of our referees and urges all members of our football fraternity to treat each other with respect through their actions and words.”

Ong also thanked Tampines Rovers' fans.

"Our fans have been fantastic. Apart from supporting us throughout, they have also been mature and restrained in their public utterances. Class," he said.

"So that’s it really. In the midst of a pandemic and an ongoing war, nobody died, nobody was injured. Let’s draw a line under what has happened."

The Lion City Sailors currently sit third in the SPL with six points from three games as they begin their title defence. Tampines are sixth with one point from their two matches so far.

Source: CNA/kg(rw)


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