Bill Ng points to lack of concrete evidence, says club will appeal
SINGAPORE - The act has been condemned, conciliatory steps taken, and Tuesday saw the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) disciplinary committee dole out punishments to Hougang United and Etoile FC for their part in an S-League pre-match fracas on May 23.
But Hougang will not let the matter rest, claiming the fine imposed on the club and points deducted were unfair because of "evidence that is not concrete" and that the disciplinary committee failed to take into account the actions of club officials to diffuse the matter.
Hougang chairman Bill Ng (picture) told MediaCorp yesterday that the club will appeal the decision.
"Both club officials took active steps to stop the incident escalating. Why is the punishment this time around the same as the incident last year between the Young Lions and Beijing Guoan, where some officials got involved?" he said.
"Hougang officials were seen on video telling our players to return to the dressing room, while Etoile players were moving aggressively towards our players and preventing them from doing so," added Ng, who also questioned the fact that his club had been handed the same punishment as Etoile.
For bringing the game into disrepute at the Hougang Stadium last month, which saw the match postponed before kickoff, both clubs were fined S$10,000, with S$5,000 suspended so long as they steer clear of trouble this year. They were also docked five points each.
In addition, Hougang's assistant coach Hasrin Jailani and skipper Shariff Samat, and Etoile's Serge Bouchon and Hadama Bathily were also fined between S$1,000 and S$2,000 and suspended for between three and seven matches.
Ng added that Etoile's Bathily, who was a key figure in the incident, should not even have been allowed on the field as he was not registered on the team sheet for the day, a breach of Article Six, Section B of the S-League handbook.
FAS confirmed last night that Etoile were indeed charged with running afoul of the rule.
Said Ng: "Etoile also faced charges for allowing Bathily onto the field - perhaps they were not aware of the rule - and he disrupted our warm-up session several times before the incident flared up."
Ng highlighted that besides Bathily, who admitted to slapping Hasrin, there was no clear evidence to fine and ban the rest.
"The players were found guilty based more on allegations than hard evidence, even the independent witness called up by the committee said there was more pushing and shoving than any punching," said Ng.
"We understand that FAS president Zainudin Nordin has a zero-tolerance policy on violence, but there shouldn't be a blanket punishment on all involved. Under this policy the players - if found guilty on solid evidence - should be banned from the league and sacked; not punish a club that had made efforts to stop violence."
Etoile have yet to decide if they will also appeal. (SOURCE)