Ex-Singapore player K. Kannan’s lifetime ban should not extend to social football

The match-fixing scandal in 1994 rocked the Malaysian football scene as several Singapore footballers, plying their trade across the Causeway, were also found guilty of bribery and corruption.

Scores of players, coaches and even referees were slapped with suspensions and life bans by the FA of Malaysia (FAM). Footballers from the republic were also implicated. They included Michal Vana, Abbas Saad, and K. Kannan.

In May 2016, FAM lifted the ban on 84 players caught for match fixing.

The FA of Singapore (FAS) lifted Abbas’ ban in 2009. He is now attached to Singapore Premier League club Geylang International as part of a requirement for his ongoing Asian Football Confederation Professional Football Diploma course.

Impressed by his knowledge of the game, Geylang International offered Abbas to head its youth development programme, with the option of extending the contract for another year.

However, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower rejected his work permit application twice, citing his “adverse” record despite appeals to Sport Singapore and FAS. It appears that his time in the republic will end when his course finishes in November.

In 1995, Kannan was convicted of conspiring with two men to offer S$80,000 to former Singapore national goalkeeper, David Lee, to concede a goal in a Malaysia Cup match.

He received S$5,000 as a reward for arranging the bribe, even though he and his co-conspirators did not approach David Lee. He was sentenced to a year in jail and fined S$40,000 on a joint conspiracy charge and slapped with an 18-month jail term and a S$5,000 fine for bribery.

He was also banned from all football activities by FAS.

He served no less than 14 months and was released in 1997. His name made headlines in recent days. He was playing social football with friends and received a letter from the FAS, reminding him of his lifetime ban.

It was alleged that Kannan was promoting football activities and organised various tournaments via the Singapore Indian Association (IA). He was also said to be a referee in these tournaments.

The matter was brought to light by ex-journalist and Singapore’s opposition party member, Jose Raymond.

With Raymond’s support, Kannan would appeal for his suspension to be lifted for the fifth time. He will do so with the help of several of Singapore’s best lawyers, Eugene Thuraisingam and Chooi Jing Yen.

Kannan is also arguing that IA is not an affiliate of FAS and thus, he did not contravene the suspension.

After bringing the matter to the public, a large number of people have rallied behind the former Singapore striker. Even his former teammates Malek Awab, Jai Prakash and E. Manimohan, have backed Kannan’s latest appeal.

Kannan has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of being involved in the game professionally.

I feel it is harsh to send him a warning for playing football socially. It is obvious that Kannan has no shortage of haters because one of them made the complaint to FAS.

I feel strongly against match-fixing as it is a despicable act, but a suspension should expire after a person reaches a certain age. Or the lifetime suspension should only be extended to professional football activities and activities organised by the association after a person serves a decade or two of their suspension.

There will be many in Singapore backing Kannan’s appeal, praying that it will be successful. I feel it is only right for Kannan to win this “do or die” match against the FAS.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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