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Fans segregation a must to ensure safety after police called in for AFF C’ship game

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has defended its decision to segregate rival supporters at all international matches it organises “to primarily ensure the safety of both the home and away fans”.

The FAS’ crowd control measures and security protocol came under the spotlight when the police were called in during the AFF Championship group game between Singapore and Vietnam at Jalan Besar on Dec 30.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, an FAS spokesman said the governing body “had taken measures to repeatedly remind fans that they were only allowed to purchase tickets dedicated for their respective sections (i.e. home and away zones) and patrons found to be non-compliant with this requirement would be denied entry on match-day”.

He added: “This was done in three ways, first in the form of pop-up announcements which appeared during the online purchasing process of the tickets and required acknowledgement by the fans before the purchase could be completed.

“Second, prominent signages, in both English and Vietnamese, were also placed in full view of fans who purchased tickets onsite on match day at the stadium itself. Finally, we also notified fans via our official social media channels.”

A number of Vietnamese fans said they were denied entry despite having tickets, although the tickets they had were for home zones, which were reserved for Singapore fans. Away supporters are allocated eight per cent of total sellable tickets, as determined by the Asean Football Federation.

A notice on the ticketmaster website states that home and away fans must purchase the correct tickets for their respective sections and promoters reserve the right to reject patrons without refunds. These conditions are repeated in the physical or digital tickets issued.

Singapore’s home games against Myanmar on Dec 24 and Vietnam six days later drew crowds of 5,370 and 5,434 respectively.

Singaporean Simon Owen Khoo, who wore a Vietnam jersey, attended the game with his spouse from Vietnam and their 10-year-old son. They sat in the grandstand – reserved for home fans and the only sheltered area.

He said while some Vietnam supporters were denied entry after being unable to produce a Singapore identity card, he was not asked to show his NRIC by the staff.

The private tutor, 57, felt the authorities could be more flexible for away fans even if they had bought the wrong tickets. He said he was aware of Vietnam fans who ended up paying marked-up prices for second-hand home tickets.

Undergraduate Zachary Wu, 23, was at both the Myanmar and Vietnam games and noted there were far fewer Myanmar fans at the Christmas Eve match. He said: “Even though the home support was about the same (for both games), there were significantly more Vietnam fans.

“I believe when Vietnam played Malaysia earlier there were some fan clashes so it is not surprising that security was stricter in Singapore for the Vietnam match.”

According to the Vietnam Posts website, an away fan Doan Quang Linh lamented how it was difficult for them to purchase tickets due to the limited supply. Away tickets were released only on Dec 8, three days after the home tickets went on sale.

The FAS had officially communicated its ticketing protocols to the Vietnam FA weeks before the match to ensure they were aware of the arrangements, noted its spokesman.

He added: “Majority of both home and away supporters at the match were found to be in compliant with the requirement, and the matchday experience in-stadia was concluded without any incidents.”

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