I REFER to the article, ‘FAS’ about-turn in Alam Shah’s case a let-down’ last Thursday, and letter, ‘FAS should not have gone soft on Alam Shah’ last Friday, regarding Noh Alam Shah.
The reduction of Alam Shah’s period of suspension is not tantamount to FAS doing an ‘about-turn’ or going soft on Alam Shah.FAS has established disciplinary procedures in place, involving a separate and independent disciplinary committee (DC) and appeals committee (AC). These are manned by committed volunteers, most legally trained.
Under this process, a separate tribunal heard Alam Shah’s appeal and assessed the case in light of points and fresh evidence he raised to decide whether the original punishment should stand and if not, appropriate punishment.
No two cases are exactly alike. While the AC took into account precedent cases, it also carefully considered the circumstances of the case before it. Alam Shah’s sentence was not reduced because he is a talented player. Nor was he given preferential treatment.
In particular, the AC took into account the unintended effect of a global ban on the player as this was not the intention of the DC when it meted out punishment on Dec 10. In this regard, Alam Shah submitted fresh evidence to show the global ban caused him and his family considerable financial hardship, especially as he has five young children, aged between eight and one, to feed. This was particularly so as the costs of living has gone up.
Alam Shah also submitted fresh evidence to show he had serious unresolved personal and family problems that impaired his judgment and affected his frame of mind that night. The DC did not consider this factor as Alam Shah did not raise this argument then, hoping to keep it a private matter.
These factors were not before the DCs in the cases of Shariff Abdul Samat and Nicodeme Boucher, who did not appeal against their sentences. Indeed, while Boucher was suspended for one year from June 2000, he resumed his playing career after his association applied for and received the international transfer certificate a month after his suspension in Singapore.
Shariff’s nine-month suspension caused him to miss the last four matches of the 2003 S-League season. He served the rest of his suspension while in full-time national service.
On the other hand, Alam Shah’s seven-month suspension will cause him to miss 16 S-League matches, three Singapore Cup matches and all six matches in the third round of Singapore’s ongoing World Cup qualifying campaign.
The FAS Exco supports the decision of the AC to reduce Alam Shah’s ban to seven months. It notes that the AC sought guidance from Article 48 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code, which came into effect on Sept 1 last year. On offences resulting from serious foul play through the use of excessive or brute force, including assaulting, elbowing, punching or kicking an opponent, Article 48’s guideline is that automatic suspension as a result shall be for at least two matches, with the possibility of a fine.
There is no dispute that Alam Shah was guilty of violent conduct and aggressive behaviour. The AC took into consideration the fact that he has expressed remorse and apologised unreservedly for his actions.
General Secretary, FAS
& S-League CEO