Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Footballer driving offences

Dec 22, 2010

S-League star jailed, fined for driving offences

By Khushwant Singh

S-LEAGUE football star Aliff Shafaein was yesterday shown the red card for his multiple offences on the road - a month after he crashed while driving unlicensed and uninsured on the morning of the Singapore Cup final.

The former Tampines Rovers vice-captain was fined $4,800 over the accident and jailed for three weeks for a separate offence of driving while disqualified.

That offence was committed four years ago, but the court was not told why it took so long to convict him.

Aliff, 28, was also banned from driving for 18 months.

He first had his licence suspended in 2006. Since then, he had racked up 12 more traffic offences - culminating in last month's crash.

He was fined a total of $10,500 yesterday for these offences.

He was also ordered to serve a further five days in jail for failing to pay $1,300 in fines for other driving violations committed in 2006.

While waiting to go to jail, Aliff told his lawyer he hoped that his 'ardent fans' would come forward to help him settle his latest fines. He will have to spend another 48 days behind bars if he does not pay up.

Last month, Aliff was in a crash at Lentor Avenue on the morning of the Singapore Cup final between his team and Bangkok Glass.

The driver and passenger in the other car - both women - were treated for minor injuries. Aliff was arrested for drink driving and inconsiderate driving. He did not have a valid driving licence or accident insurance coverage, and the car had been taken without the consent of his relative who owned it.

Instead of telling his club of his troubles, Aliff went on to captain his team in the match, which they lost 1-0.

His other offences were committed much earlier. In July 2007, he drove an off-peak car with no supplementary licence for the day. Such cars can be used onlyfrom 7pm to 7am on weekdays unless with a licence. Officers who arrested him also found he did not have a valid driving licence or insurance.

A month later, he was in trouble again, for parking illegally and driving without a licence.

A charge for driving while unlicensed and another for driving across double white lines in 2007 were taken into consideration for sentencing.

But it was not all bad news for him yesterday. Tampines Rovers said it will take him back when he is out of jail. It is also reportedly looking at ways to help him pay his fines.

Tampines Rovers general manager Edward Silas said in a testimonial submitted to court that Aliff was a gifted player who had won many honours for the club since 2004, including the S-League Championship and Singapore Cup.

'We understand he needs to be punished for his wrongdoings and rightfully so, but we hope he can be released as soon as possible to represent the club for the upcoming season,' he said.

Aliff could not keep still through much of the hearing, rocking himself on the balls of his feet. He had told reporters earlier he had advised family members not to go to court as he was the only one answerable.

For driving while disqualified, he could have been fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to three years, or both. It is not known why his licence had been suspended.

Aliff gets 2nd chance
Tampines will retain jailed midfielder, may help him pay $10k fine

By Fabius Chen
HIS football career looked like it was in tatters.

But Aliff Shafaein was yesterday handed a life preserver by his club Tampines Rovers, just hours after receiving a three-week jail sentence.

The 28-year-old midfielder was also fined a total of $10,500 for 12 traffic offences dating back to 2006, including drink driving and driving without a valid licence.

Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng had earlier stated that Aliff would have no future at the club if convicted but that stance had softened considerably by the conclusion of yesterday's court hearing.

'The club's management was pretty disappointed with him,' general manager Edward Silas admitted. 'But we don't want to be too harsh and will definitely give him a chance to return after he has served his jail time.'

Tampines are reportedly also looking at ways to help Aliff settle his fines which, if defaulted, could see him serve another 48 days behind bars.

'He's an old timer and we have a soft spot for players who have been here for a long time,' Silas added.

But at least one member of the local football fraternity believes that the Stags have passed up a chance to stress an intolerance for such misdemeanours.

'They have to set an example, otherwise the next generation of players will repeat his mistakes,' said former Tanjong Pagar United coach Tohari Paijan, who also noted that Aliff's offences are symptomatic of the indiscipline that has dogged Singapore football in the past year.

During an Asian Cup qualifier against Jordan in March, Singapore internationals Baihakki Khaizan and Ridhuan Muhamad were each fined $750 for boarding the team bus late, while the Lions camp was hit by reports of players smoking.

Then came the infamous foot-brawl of Sept 7, which saw three players from Beijing Guoan and four from the Young Lions receive lengthy bans.

And, most recently, five members of Singapore's AFF Suzuki Cup squad were fined $500 each for playing cards at 1am - two hours after curfew.

'Sentiment is one thing,' added Tohari. 'When a player makes a mistake, he must pay the price, even if he has been at a club for 10 years.'

Aliff is one of the Stags' longest-serving players, having joined the club in 2004. He was their vice-captain in the recently concluded season.

An impressive contribution, including eight goals, earned him a spot in the Singapore Selection squad that contested the Sultan of Selangor's Cup in October.

But it all fell apart on the morning of the Singapore Cup final on Nov 14, when he was involved in a car accident. He was found to be drink driving and driving on a suspended licence.

He ended up producing a subdued performance that evening and was substituted in the 77th minute as the Stags fell 0-1 to Thai outfit Bangkok Glass.

Aliff's insistence that he had been drinking the previous night - not on the morning of the final itself - has done little to placate team manager Syed Faruk.

The former Singapore international is said to have helped the player settle approximately 50 summonses over the past two years, believed to amount to $30,000.

'Players are not supposed to be drinking 72 hours before a match,' Faruk pointed out. 'And that was the most important game of our season, so it was a stupid thing to do.'

Incidentally, the only other local footballer to have spent time incarcerated for non-football related offences also found a home at the Stags following his release.

In 1999, Lee Man Hon served a five-week sentence for riding a motorcycle under a ban. He was subsequently signed by Tampines for the 2000 season and went on to captain them a year later.

A member of the Malaysia Cup-winning side of 1994, Lee had some words of encouragement for Aliff.

'Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for him to be more mature,' said the 36-year-old. 'He has to be strong and continue to work hard. His football career shouldn't be affected too much by this, so he still has a future in the sport.'

[This person seems incorrigible. Licence suspended in 2006 for who knows what offences and violations. Did not pay fine. Then 12 more traffic offences while on suspension. And an accident driving while disqualified, without insurance, and without the consent of the owner of the car (yeah right. The owner has to cover his ass or be liable for the accident). Obviously suspension doesn't mean a thing to him. And now he hopes his "ardent fans" will pay his fines? The club should just let him rot in jail (it's 48 more days when we can be sure this unlicenced, uninsured menace is not on the road!). But he's not going to stop until he kills someone. Not that he is evil. Just irresponsible.]

Dec 24, 2010

Footballers' antics send sport here to new low

Selfish, ill-disciplined behaviour must go for Singapore football to rise

By Marc Lim

THE issue of footballers behaving badly is not new. Put 20 often overpaid but underworked, testosterone-oozing athletes together and you get a recipe for disaster. Even the world's top players have been prone to misbehaviour - from taking part in orgies to stubbing out a lit cigar in a teammate's eye.

What can one expect from young men who have had their egos artificially inflated - much like the ball they kick around?

But what sets the recent antics of Singapore boys apart from the misbehaving men of the world game is not so much the drunken nights out or the breaking of curfews, but when and how they did it.

Tampines Rovers midfielder Aliff Shafaein's drunken night out - and subsequent car accident - was neither during the off-season, nor was it after a game. For those who have not heard of him, he is the vice-captain of one of Singapore's most successful clubs.

But now, he is best known for his drink-driving accident on Nov 14, just hours before his team's most important match of the season.

There was at least one good reason why he should not have been out drinking that night: Tampines had not won a trophy all season and the Singapore Cup final against Thai side Bangkok Glass was their last chance this year.

But the 28-year-old ignored his role as a team leader. He was found with 41mg of alcohol in every 100ml of breath, past the legal limit of 35mg, when the car he was driving collided with another car.

It also emerged that he had a string of other offences, such as driving with a suspended licence, for which he was slapped with a three-week jail term on Tuesday.

Aliff is not alone in his misbehaviour.

When five members of the national football team stayed up till 1am playing cards during the recent Asean Football Federation Cup, they were not just breaking the 11pm curfew. Their decision to ignore team orders also broke almost every rule in team sport.

Even as kids, budding footballers are taught the importance of listening to the coach, respecting teammates, and the cliched 'There is no 'I' in 'Team''.

The card session came just hours after the Lions had barely done enough to beat Myanmar 2-1. As if an emotional, energy-sapping match was not a good enough reason to get some rest, there was a crucial match against Vietnam just 48 hours away. Falter and Singapore would be out in the tournament's group stage for the first time in a decade.

As it turned out, Singapore did go on to lose that match 0-1 to Vietnam.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) fined each of the five $500 but has refused to name them, despite calls from the public to do so.

The Hanoi incident is even more frustrating as it comes just months after two national footballers were fined for being late for the team bus.

That was just before a crucial Asian Cup qualifier in March. The Lions needed to hold Jordan - a team they beat in an earlier round - to a draw to qualify for next year's Asian Cup Finals in Qatar.

Making it to Qatar would have been a big deal, as it would have been the Republic's date with the continent's big boys. The last time Singapore played in the Asian Cup Finals was in 1984 as the host.

Despite all that hung on that crucial match, two footballers showed up late for the bus ferrying them to their date with destiny. Singapore lost 1-2.

Successful athletes often talk about being 'in the zone' before a big match - that state of mind when you go into hyper-focus, blocking out all distractions and focusing on what needs to be done to achieve the desired result. Needless to say, neither the two latecomers nor the rest of the team, anxious about their whereabouts, can be said to have been in the zone that day.

At a time when Singapore sport is scaling new heights - the women's table tennis team are world champions, while swimmers and shooters have also made their mark internationally - the antics of Singapore footballers this year have done nothing but sink the sport to a new low.

It cannot be a mere coincidence that the recent events come on the back of the Lions' poor showing in the latest rankings issued by world body Fifa. Last week, the Republic occupied the 140th spot - its joint-lowest placing in history.

Skill alone, or the lack of it, does not solely determine the Fifa rankings. Just as important is a team's ability to focus on what matters and recognise when they need to take things seriously.

The three incidents, in isolation, may not be a big deal. But when viewed together, it is an indication that there is a culture of indiscipline breeding in the sport.

Something must be seriously wrong when the team manager of the Singapore national football side has to resort to spot-checks at 1am to make sure his players are behaving.

Are these players, the so-called pride and joy of the nation, so out of control that they need to be treated like kids?

Has representing the country become so trivial that players put self-worth ahead of glory for the nation?

Discipline is vital for teams such as the Singapore Lions, who lack the technical finesse and physical authority to battle top sides. But teams can compensate for these shortcomings to a great degree by adopting a hardened work ethic, leading an ascetic life, obeying team tactics, playing together as one taut, rigorous unit, and by doing all the small things well.

Singapore football - from coaches and players to officials in the S-League - needs to go back to the fundamentals, back to emphasising traits like discipline, teamwork, pride, diligence and honour.

Officials cannot condone acts like Aliff's by agreeing to bail out the recalcitrant players time and time again.

It was preposterous that a senior player like Aliff could even think of asking his 'ardent fans' to donate their hard-earned money to pay his fines. The gall of that suggestion speaks volumes of just how self-deluded, self-centred and selfish our footballers are.

It is not as if the sport has not tasted success. In the past decade, the Lions have been crowned Asean champions twice. On the club front, Tampines have also lifted the Asean Club Championship trophy.

But those involved with the sport need to be reminded of the hard work they did to get there - and do it all over again.

It cannot be done with half-hearted officials and weak leadership. But most of all, it cannot be done with players who show scant respect and dedication for the badge and flag they wear on their chests.

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