Geylang International coach Noor Ali blasts return of brawling NFL teams
Geylang International head coach Noor Ali has blasted the return of the two brawling National Football League (NFL) teams -- without any punishment from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Three weeks ago, a mass brawl broke out in the dying minutes of a top-of-the-table Division One clash between Yishun Sentek Mariners and SAFSA, requiring police intervention.
FAS had initially stopped Yishun and SAFSA from playing further league fixtures, with a Disciplinary Committee (DC) hearing expected to resolve the matter.
However, both sides are now back in NFL action -- without any verdict, or confirmation that those guilty have been punished.
Yishun beat Balestier United 2-0 on Wednesday night, while SAFSA did not need to take to the field, due to a no-show from their opponents Admiralty FC.
"If the FAS is serious about implementing a promotion-relegation system between the S.League and the NFL, it must take a strong stance on things like these," Noor Ali told The New Straits Times.
"Yishun and SAFSA must understand that they are the two best teams in the NFL -- if they behave like this, how can we have promotion?
"Both teams must be taken to task; there's no place in the S.League for this kind of behaviour."
FAS did not respond to questions about whether a DC has taken place and did not clarify why they allowed Yishun and SAFSA to resume competitive football before disciplinary proceedings.
Its spokesman only said that the association had suspended the fixtures of the teams, instead of the team themselves.
"Following the incident between Yishun and SAFSA on Nov 12, the fixtures involving the two teams were suspended to facilitate immediate initial investigations. The players sanctioned by match officials will be serving their relevant competition suspensions," the FAS spokesman said.
It was revealed that four SAFSA players have been suspended, with three as a direct consequence of cards issued after the brawl.
Alim Omar, sports secretary of NFL Division Two club South Avenue, echoed Noor Ali's thoughts and is of the belief that a DC must be convened to mete out punishment to the guilty parties.
"The investigation must be thorough, unmitigated and without prejudice, but the clubs should be allowed to continue to finish their fixtures," he said.
Meanwhile, four Yishun players were banned for direct red cards received during that game itself.
SAFSA now lead the 12-team NFL Division One table with 53 points from 20 games, with Yishun two points behind, with a game in hand.
In the recent FAS Congress, it was mentioned that the NFL could replace the Prime League as the country's second-tier competition from as early as next year.
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT