Ex-footballer K Kannan reminded that his lifetime ban includes social matches

·Assistant News Editor
·4-min read
Football Association of Singapore logo. (SCREENSHOT: FAS/Facebook)
Football Association of Singapore logo. (SCREENSHOT: FAS/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Former national footballer K Kannan has been reminded that his lifetime ban from all activities linked to the sport imposed by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) includes a prohibition against him being involved in social matches.

In a letter on 12 August 2020 to Kannan, FAS reiterated the conditions of the ban to the former Lions forward. It comes after FAS was informed that Kannan, who has been serving the ban for 26 years, had been involved in football management and football activities at the Indian Association Singapore (IA).

"You were and are fully aware that your life ban was a life ban from all football related activities," noted Lim in his letter. "You are not to partake in any football related activities either directly or indirectly. Any violation of the ban will be treated very seriously by FAS."

Kannan is appealing for the fifth time for the ban to be lifted, which was imposed in 1995 after he was convicted of conspiring with two other men to offer $80,000 to then-national goalkeeper David Lee to concede a goal in a Malaysia Cup match. 

He corruptly received $5,000 as a reward for arranging the bribe, even though he and his co-conspirators did not approach Lee. 

Kannan, who represented Singapore from 1980-1993, served 14 months in prison for the offence. A household name in his time, Kannan also won the Golden Boot in the Malaysian League in 1987 while representing Kuala Lumpur. 

Following his conviction, the father of three was permanently suspended from all football activities. 

'Our client has paid dearly for his transgressions'

Singapore striker K Kannan celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in a Malaysia Cup match against ATM in 1988. (SCREENGRAB: YouTube)
Former Singapore forward K Kannan (third from left) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in a Malaysia Cup match against ATM in 1988. (SCREENGRAB: YouTube)

Kannan's appeal was highlighted by businessman Jose Raymond in a Facebook post, which said that the FAS letter was sent to Kannan after he was spotted playing social football with friends. The appeal by Kannan, who is represented by Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, is backed up by character testimonials from former national team players Malek Awab, Jai Prakash, and E Manimohan, as well as former national team manager Patrick Ang.

An appeal letter written by Eugene Thuraisingam and Chooi Jing Yen was sent to the FAS last Friday (13 August). The Association has acknowledged receipt of the letter but has yet to respond. 

The lawyers told Yahoo News Singapore that the appeal alludes to Article 75.8 of the FAS Constitution, which states that any person who is convicted of corruption “shall be permanently suspended from taking part in football management or membership or activities of the FAS".

The appeal argued that Kannan's involvement with the IA does not contravene the permanent suspension, as IA is not an affiliate member of the FAS. It also noted that there is precedent for the lifting of such bans – in 2009, Australian Abbas Saad, who represented Singapore in the Malaysia Cup and was also convicted for corruption in 1995, successfully appealed to FAS for his suspension to be lifted. 

"The fundamental fact is that it has been 26 years since his conviction. He has served his time and stayed out of FAS activities," said the lawyers.

'A grave and serious mistake'

According to the FAS letter to Kannan, he appealed four times to the FAS and the Asian Football Confederation for the ban to be lifted in 1999, 2000 and 2002. These were all rejected, with the FAS stating, "Match fixing is a cancer which if left unchecked will destroy the game. The punishment must therefore be severe."

In his latest appeal, Kannan's lawyers said, "Our client does not wish to take this permanent suspension to his grave. Instead, he wishes to cap his illustrious footballing career by grooming Singapore’s next generation of footballers and to contribute to the sport in any way possible."

They added that their client has maintained an "unblemished record" since his release from prison. He has also been suspended for 26 years, almost twice the length of time that Abbas was suspended. 

"There is also little, if any, risk that the act of lifting our client’s suspension would be construed as FAS softening its tough stand against corruption in football," adding that Kannan has "paid dearly" for his mistakes and is now reformed and rehabilitated.

They asked for "discretion and compassion", noting that in Singapore, even those sentenced to life imprisonment may be eligible, subject to a review, for a remission order after a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment. 

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the FAS for comment. 

In a brief media statement, Kannan said, "I’m happy that there are people who still think of me and who care for me. I’m already quite old and my best days in football are over. I’ve made a mistake and have paid for it very dearly and I just want to move on with my life."

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