Just how tough is tough?

The story:

This letter appeared in The Straits Times’ Forum page on 5 May 2008. Basically, it was the FAS’ effort to explain why its disciplinary committee had decided to reduce striker Noh Alam Shah’s ban to nine months. See the letter here.

My thoughts: 

I am really not surprised by the public uproar that the Football Association of Singapore’s new decision on Noh Alam Shah’s ban has generated.

In the first place, Alam Shah’s first punishment – a year-long ban and a $2,000 fine – couldn’t really have been that punitive,  considering that the door was left open for him to ply his trade in Malaysia, right? (until that backfired when the Malaysians decided to check with FIFA on how wide-ranging the ban was.)

Winston Lee’s mention of Shariff Abdul Samat’s punishment (as highlighted above) is interesting too.

Till today, I am still trying to figure out just how tough was the punishment the young man received for his act of violence during an S-League match between Geylang United and Sembawang Rangers in Sept 2003, when he – playing for Sembawang then – ran across the pitch to punch Geylang United midfielder Peter Bennett after the latter had fouled Sembawang player Pittipong Kuldilog.

Shariff broke Bennett’s nose and proceeded to flee the scene. He was fined $500 and banned nine months. Sounds quite a tough sentence, hey?

But consider this – the ban came when the S-League season was at its tail-end. Meaning 18-year-old Shariff effectively sat out his club’s last four games, which he had already been barred from playing in the first place. Subsequently, he – get this – SERVED THE REST OF HIS NINE-MONTH SUSPENSION IN NATIONAL SERVICE.

What did this mean? Simply this: by the time, the next S-League season came around, he ended up missing just three months of S-League football (the 2004 season started in March), which he would ordinarily have missed any way since

a) he was in the beginning stages of national service/basic military training by then and  

b) upon the end of his ban, he, being 19 and not an established player yet, would still have ended up in Home United’s Prime League team for at least one season in the first place.

According to research on the internet, Shariff seemed to have featured in just one S-League match for Home in 2005 which means he probably spent seasons 2004 and 2005 trying to break into the Home United senior team).

So how tough was that punishment that was meted out to Shariff then?  I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Yours in Sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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