This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:
S-League footballer held over car crash
(The Straits Times, 16 Nov 2010)
Tampines Rovers vice-captain suspected of drink driving and driving while suspended
By Lester Kok
S-LEAGUE footballer Aliff Shafaein was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of drink driving and driving while suspended, after he was involved in a car crash hours before he captained Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup final.
Two women needed hospital treatment after the accident on the morning of Tampines’ match against Bangkok Glass, which the former lost 0-1.
Aliff’s coach and team manager were left fuming after they learnt of the vice-captain’s arrest, which he failed to tell them about before the match on Sunday. The attacking midfielder was acting team captain during the match, but was substituted in the second half because of his poor performance.
Aliff, 28, was believed to have been driving a relative’s black Honda Jazz along Lentor Avenue towards Yishun when it collided with another car. The other driver, a 30-year-old woman, and her passenger, a woman in her early 20s, were taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. They were said to have been treated for minor injuries.
Aliff, believed to have been handcuffed when arrested, was unhurt. It is understood that he was able to play in the match because he was released on $10,000 bail.
Team manager Syed Faruk said he had been able to contact Aliff only via SMS after learning of the arrest yesterday, and was very disappointed with the player’s actions.
‘We run our club based on trust… we treat our players like adults, we trust them to do the right thing and I think he has done the wrong thing, by not telling us before the match. This got us really angry as it was such an important match.’
Mr Faruk added that Tampines coach Vorawan Chitavanich was very angry when he heard about the incident. ‘He (Aliff) wasn’t playing his usual game. I think the coach suspected something was amiss, but we didn’t know what happened, nobody told us anything,’ the team manager said.
He added that the other team members had not known of their vice-captain’s arrest, although they knew he was in a car accident that morning.
Aliff is known to have had more than 50 unpaid summonses over the past two years, believed to total up to $30,000. Mr Faruk had helped him settle the bill.
The manager said he did not know why Aliff’s licence was suspended. He added that he did not know who paid Aliff’s bail. ‘His family is not so (well to do), he is supporting his family.’
Police confirmed yesterday that ‘a man in his late 20s was arrested for drink driving and driving under suspension of driving licence’.
Aliff did not respond to calls from The Straits Times last night. His teammates said they were surprised to hear of his arrest, as he appeared normal during the match.
Striker Aleksandar Duric said: ‘He is very quiet, I’m surprised.’
Attacking midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman described Aliff as a ‘good person’ who does not talk very much.
The future of the Tampines vice-captain, who has been with the club since 2004, now seems uncertain as his contract will run out by the year end.
Mr Faruk said discussions will be held with the club’s committee, chairman and general manager tomorrow or on Thursday, before they decide on whether to renew Aliff’s contract.
The above incident is an example of sheer stupidity and irresponsibiity at its best. But worse of all, it deals another hammer blow at the image of the local professional footballer.
So now we know: not only is the average S-League footballer
a) incapable of earning a proper living when he is not playing football (as shown by the example of Mohd Noor Ali who ended up doing odd jobs and assisting at his father’s prata stall during his suspension from the S-League for betting on matches),
b) incredibly disloyal (as shown by some Lions in the past two years who abandoned their clubs midway through the season to join Indonesian clubs which were dangling higher salaries, even though their own clubs were in the chase for the S-League ttle)
c) incredibly stupid (as shown by Aliff Shafaein’s reckless behaviour on the eve and morning of his club’s Singapore Cup final.
I mean, is drinking the night before a Cup final the sort of behaviour a professional footballer should be indulging in?
My jaw also dropped at the revelation that Aliff had chalked up over 50 summonses and over $30,000 in fines prior to his arrest. And that he was driving despite having his licence suspended.
What is wrong with the bloody idiot? Does he not have a brain?
For that matter, what is wrong with all these footballers?
Is there any cause for wonder then that the general public has such a poor impression of our local footballers, and of football as a viable professional career?
Sadly, the people who are going to suffer the most in this instance will be the members of Aliff’s family.
From the report, it’s pretty clear that he is one of the main breadwinners of his family.
He is already 28 years old. So if he ends up in jail for a lengthy period of time, it probably means the end of his livelihood as a professional player.
For that matter, do you think that Tampines Rovers – who entrusted him with leadership positions in the team — or any other club would want to have him on their rosters now that they know the sort of irresponsible person he is?
It’s all very stupid, very tragic and very sad.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan