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Anger as NFL footballers receive no medical support after on-pitch accident

SINGAPORE — The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has come under fire for failing to provide medical personnel for a National Football League (NFL) Division 2 match, after a nasty collision between two players from South Avenue Sports Club and Gymkhana FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium last week resulted in one bleeding from an open head wound.

South Avenue player Basit Hamid receiving treatment after a collision with a Gymkhana player. Photo: TheMonitorSG

South Avenue player Basit Hamid receiving treatment after a collision with a Gymkhana player. Photo: TheMonitorSG

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SINGAPORE — The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has come under fire for failing to provide medical personnel for a National Football League (NFL) Division 2 match, after a nasty collision between two players from South Avenue Sports Club and Gymkhana FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium last week resulted in one bleeding from an open head wound.

According to accounts from both teams’ officials, South Avenue footballer Basit Hamid had collided with Gymkhana’s Fariss Haiqel during the match, resulting in head injuries to both players. While the Sports Safety Committee’s guidelines recommends that medical staff be present at sports events with high risk of physical contact, there was no medical team or ambulance on standby during the match.

This meant that there was no medical staff to treat Basit’s open head wound, and his team officials had to resort to bandaging it themselves. An ambulance only arrived about 10 minutes after the incident, said South Avenue’s sports secretary Alim Omar.

“It was totally absurd... To me, it’s unacceptable that someone in the administration side could make such a mistake and didn’t deploy any medical personnel to be on standby at the stadium,” said Mr Alim.

Both teams said that they were informed by the match commissioner that it was not a protocol for an ambulance to be on standby during Division 2 games.

“I don’t know if it was a miscommunication, but there is definitely such protocol,” said Mr Alim. Gymkhana secretary Khairil Zam added that he had seen ambulances at games earlier in the season, but he did not see any in recent matches. Both clubs have since raised this issue with the FAS, and they are awaiting an official response from the national governing body.

Although both players have been medically cleared to play, Mr Alim said he would like to see the FAS or Sport Singapore put in measures to ensure the safety of their players.

He added: “Anything can happen at any time... this time fortunately my player is okay, but what if something worse happens?”

Responding to queries from TODAY, a spokesman from FAS said that the association met with some club officials on Monday afternoon for a discussion on the matter. "“FAS President Mr Lim Kia Tong, who is also Chairman of the NFL Committee, had previously given instructions for ambulances to be present at all NFL matches. This particular match was an unfortunate and isolated incident in which the ambulance was not present at the venue.

“However, it is also a requirement for clubs to ensure the presence of a physiotherapist/trained first aid officer at all matches. We note that, in the spirit of sportsmanship, the sports trainer from Gymkhana FC provided immediate treatment to both injured players before the SCDF ambulance arrived."

“Moving forward, we will seriously consider stating in the Competition Rulebook that the match may not start without an ambulance on standby. We will also have stricter enforcement of rules, especially for those related to safety such as each team having qualified medical/first aid personnel on their bench."
 
Trouble also erupted on the pitch on Sunday night (Nov 12), when the police were called in after a top-of-the-table clash between NFL Division 1 teams Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (Safsa) and Yishun Sentek Mariners at the Jalan Besar Stadium descended into a mass brawl between players from both sides.

The fight took place almost immediately after Sentek Mariners defender Zulfadhli Suzliman was sent off for kicking Safsa player Nazirul Islam late in the second half with Safsa leading the match 3-2.

Sentek Mariners coach Yakob Hashim told TODAY that Zulfadhli had retaliated after Nazirul made “insulting remarks” about his mother.

“Although I do not condone (Zulfadhi’s) reaction, you must understand that everybody have different personalities, and when you insult a person’s mother, there are bound to be people who react in the same way,” said Mr Yakob, who is a FAS council member.

“It is regrettable that such an incident has happened. Investigations are ongoing and we will cooperate fully with the relevant authorities.”

Mr Yakob says his club will wait for any FAS ruling before deciding whether to take disciplinary action against their players. Safsa’s team manager declined comment when contacted by TODAY.

A police spokesperson confirmed on Monday that they had received a call for assistance at the Jalan Besar Stadium the day before, and that “police investigations are ongoing”.

Both incidents have threatened to overshadow the FAS’s Annual Congress, which will be held at the Holiday Inn Singapore on Thursday.

This was not the first time that violence had broken out at NFL games, as a Singapore FA Cup first-round match between Safsa and Balestier United Recreation Club last October was stopped by the referee after a fight broke out in the 88th minute.

Balestier was eventually banned from competing in the FA Cup for two years and fined S$1,000, while three of its players were banned from all FAS-sanctioned matches and tournaments until end-2016 and fined S$500 each.

Two players were banned from all matches till June 30 this year, while Safsa’s captain was given a conditional warning.

In a statement issued early Monday morning, the FAS said that it “does not condone any ungentlemanly behaviour that taints the name of our sport, and brings it into disrepute”.

“As the matter is under investigation, we are unable to make any further comments,” added the association.

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