The council of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has lifted the lifetime bans on the Indian origin former Singapore striker K Kannan and former FIFA referee Thiru Rajamanickam, following a review of their appeals filed in 2021.
In a media statement on Friday, FAS president Lim Kia Tong said the decision came after the council "deliberated extensively on the issues and key factors surrounding both cases". A former Singapore international, Kannan was banned in 1995 from football activities after he was convicted of conspiring with two other people to bribe a Singapore player with SGD 80,000 in a Premier League match against a team from Malaysian state of Perlis on May 13, 1994.
He was sentenced to a year in jail and fined SGD 40,000 for the joint conspiracy charge. He was also handed 18 months' jail term and ordered to pay a penalty of SGD 5,000 for "corruptly receiving gratification".
Rajamanickam, a former FIFA referee, was sentenced to eight months' jail and fined SGD 1,000 for accepting a SGD 1,000 bribe from a football bookmaker. He was to arrange for the appointed Malaysian referee to be lenient to the Singapore team in a match with Malaysia's Kelantan state team on Apr 5, 1994. He was handed a lifetime ban from all football activities and deregistered from the FAS' referees list in 1994.
Singapore play in the premier league run by the Football Association of Malaysia involving Malaysian states. The bans on the two men were lifted on Mar 15, reported Channel News Asia, citing FAS statement. Lim said the decision does not represent a "softening stance" on football corruption by the FAS. FAS said the Council "adhered strictly" to the criteria and requirements of the FAS Constitution, namely the circumstances including the nature and extent of the violation, the punishment meted out by the court, as well as the characters and contributions of both men.
The council also noted that in both cases, the two men had already served more than 26 years of suspension, on top of their respective court-imposed sentences, including the jail terms which they had served. "Both individuals have also kept clean records since," said FAS. "Kannan and Rajamanickam are also required (to) carry out programmes and activities, in person or virtually or via publication to support anti-corruption drives and engagements within six months of their bans being lifted."
In a statement on Friday, Kannan thanked his lawyers at Eugene Thuraisingam LLP and former opposition party member Jose Raymond for helping him in his appeal. "I will always be grateful to everyone for their support, even in my darkest hours. "Football has always been my life, and I will do whatever I can to contribute back to society in a meaningful way," the Channel quoted Kannan as saying. Lim said FAS remains steadfast in its "unwavering" stand that corruption has no place in football and will not be tolerated in any form.
"Any player or official found guilty of such an offence can expect to be dealt with to the full extent of the FAS Constitution," he said. Lim pointed out that Kannan and Rajamanickam had their appeals for the lifting of the bans rejected a few times, which "demonstrated the strong stand that FAS took, is taking and will continue to take" against match-fixing and football corruption.
"Football enjoys a huge following in Singapore, attracting fans from every stratum of society. Public interest therefore requires that the integrity of the game shall be maintained," he added. Last year, Kannan was sent a reminder of his lifetime ban from football as he was found to be "involved in football management and football activities" at the Indian Association Singapore, following a complaint.