Singapore football head coach Fandi Ahmad and journalist Dilenjit Singh have made peace over a remark by the former that could be construed as poking fun at the turban.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has expressed ‘regrets’ on comments made by its national team head coach Fandi in response to a question from the journalist.
In a statement today (13 Sept 2018), FAS said it regrets that Fandi’s comments during the pre-match press conference on 6 Sept 2018 for the match between Singapore and Mauritius, have upset members of the Sikh community.
“Fandi and the FAS have contacted Mr. Dilenjit Singh (The New Paper reporter) and the Sikh Advisory Board (SAB) to explain, apologise and clarify the matter. Mr. Singh gracefully accepted our explanation and apology. Our discussion with the Sikh Advisory Board has also revealed that the comments could be hurtful to the Sikh community even though they were not made with any malicious intent,” it said in the statement.
“As such, the FAS has taken the opportunity to remind all our staff to be sensitive about all remarks made even in jest and accord to the highest level of professionalism and respect in engaging our stakeholders and the community at all times,” it added.
The issue was highlighted in a report titled ‘Racist remark by Fandi Ahmad?’ by media portal the Online Citizen.
The report suggested that Fandi and FAS ‘owe the Sikh community an apology over a culturally inappropriate comment’ made at the press conference.
In capturing the exchange, the portal said the question posed by the TNP writer Dilenjit Singh was as follows: “You said that in terms of skill and technique, some of our rivals in the region have overtaken us. How would that affect you wanting to play the good football which you are known for.”
In response, Fandi Ahmad said: “We have not all bad… I can’t condemn anybody because our system is different from others. I can’t say it also, as it is against the Government. You know if I say it loud, you know, you will be seeing your turban would be gone. Seriously bro. I cannot say, I want to tell you. But later private I will tell you. ”
First racially abused, Sikh boy then appears as mascot at England-Switzerland football friendly (Asia Samachar, 12 Sept 2016)