Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Match between Hougang and Etoile abandoned

In an unprecedented move, match officials were forced to abandon the tie between hosts Hougang United and defending champions Etoile FC even before kick-off, after players from both teams started fighting during the warm-up session.

While details were sketchy, witnesses MediaCorp spoke to said the action resembled a gang fight, with players chasing each other and some rushing onto the terraces.

They said Etoile players rushed to the Hougang side of the pitch after words were exchanged between a player each from the two teams over a ball that accidentally kicked into the Hougang warm-up area.

A scuffle then broke out between the players, which one eyewitness said lasted as long as eight minutes.

New Hougang Member of Parliament Yaw Shin Leong was in the stands.

A Hougang player had to be restrained from swinging a chair at one of his opponents, said another witness.

With training cones and balls still left on the pitch, the players were instructed to go to their respective dressing rooms.

After consulting the teams and the referee, match commissioner A. Raamasamy called off the game.

FAS deputy director (marketing and competitions) Ridzal Saat, said: "We do not condone any sort of violence, more so anything that is pre-match. We will conduct a full investigation to find out what actually happened.

"This is something we do not want in our game, and following investigations, any guilty parties, if there are, will be severely dealt with. This is the first instance since the S-League was inaugurated in 1996 that a match has been abandoned prior to kick-off due to disciplinary issues.

It comes eight-and-a-half months since the fight between players from the Young Lions and Beijing Guoan last season, which resulted in a total of 16 players (six from the Young Lions, 10 from Beijing Guoan) being banned between four to 12 months, or fined.

Observers said Monday night's fracas could well have been a spillover from a previous altercation at Queenstown Stadium on March 7, when the teams met in the S-League for the first time this season.

According to a report on a Hougang fansite, a "mini-brawl" had broken out after the match, which Etoile won 4-2.

The S-League did not take action then as the clubs dealt with the matter internally.

When contacted, Bill Ng, chairman of Hougang United FC, said: "I will conduct a full investigation on our side and cooperate with the Football Association of Singapore fully. I do not tolerate violence and if any of our players are at fault, we will take strong disciplinary action and will not even hesitate to drop them from our squad.

"The incident today is a pity because we had a good crowd, about 2,000, who wanted to watch a good game."

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