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'Abuse me face to face': Acting FAS leader responds to angry netizen after Young Lions' 7-0 humiliation at SEA Games

Singapore's 7-0 defeat against Malaysia at the SEA Games football tournament on Thursday (May 11) was met with indignation from local fans on social media.

One of them called for the head of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to step down after the Young Lions' worst defeat at the Games since 1971.

But he did not expect a response from the man himself.

Leaving a comment on interim FAS president Bernard Tan's Instagram page, user Nic_8276 said: "If you had any concern [sic] about the national team, then resign now!

"You are not worthy of the paycheck!"

In an immediate reply to the Instagram user, Tan first clarified that "he doesn't get paid" for his role as interim FAS president.

Tan, the country president of conglomerate Sinar Mas, has helmed the national football association since last September - following sitting president Lim Kia Tong's death in the same month.

The acting head of FAS also issued Nic_8276 a "one time offer" on Instagram.

"Instead of abusing me here, abuse me face-to-face. Let's meet" he said, while leaving his email on social media.

"I will leave your comment for 24 hours. After which I will delete you. It's my wall."

In response, Nic_8276 said that Tan "can't just leave Singapore [football] fans in the dark".

"If things keep going like this, the game we love will die," he added.


Tan has since deleted his interaction with the angry netizen. He had also made his Instagram account private while leaving a "sorry" on his bio.

But his response, in the wake of the national football team's humiliating SEA Games exit, did not go down well with several members of the local football fraternity.

Taking to Facebook, Singapore football fan group SingaBrigade shared that Tan's behaviour was "shocking to see".

"The reply is totally overflowing with sarcasm with no sense of being contrite," they said. "Where is the humility when talking to the fans?"

But a netizen pointed out on Reddit that Tan made the comment when tensions were high.

"However, literally challenging someone to meet face-to-face like that is a really, really bad idea on the part of Bernard. It would have been far better for him to simply walk away," he said.

Meanwhile, other netizens have offered Tan and the national football team words of support. 

"This is good, he offered to meet and talk," one of them said. "Meet the big brass and share your solution, if you think you can do better." 

"People can talk and say what they want, but do you even think about the players?" Another said. "It's not like they did not play their hearts out." 

'I am sorry': Tan

The one-sided drubbing to Malaysia was the worst nights in Singapore's footballing history, Tan said in his private Facebook account on Friday (May 12). 

In a post seen by AsiaOne, Tan said: "I've always wanted to be more open, even through social media. They're many who have offered constructive feedback and perceptions. 

"But the events of last night led to emotions running high with some abuse on my social media from unfamiliar accounts. I regret responding and I apologise deeply. I am sorry." 

Appealing for messages of support to the national team, Tan shared that all engagement with stakeholders is "best done in formal and organised settings."

"Tough questions will be asked over the next two weeks, and we will do this openly," he said. 

AsiaOne has contacted FAS for comment.

Ended campaign without a victory

Singapore's loss to Malaysia also meant that the Republic finished their 2023 SEA Games football campaign without a single victory – a first since 1987. 

The national team exited the tournament rock bottom in Group B, behind Laos on goal difference.

On Thursday, Malaysia took a two-goal lead into half-time before scoring five more after the break. Malaysian midfielder Saravanan Thirumurugan bagged four goals.

The latest loss comes after the senior team’s 4–1 defeat by Malaysia at the 2022 AFF Championship in January in Kuala Lumpur.

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