Three Sailors fined $500 each for failing to perform post-match handshake
Less than three months after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) slapped a $5,000 fine on the Lion City Sailors for the team’s conduct during a fiery Singapore Premier League (SPL) clash with Tampines Rovers, the privatised club have been taken to task again.
Belgian winger Maxime Lestienne, South Korean forward Kim Shin-wook and Brazilian playmaker Diego Lopes have each been fined $500 for refusing to shake their opponents’ hands after their 1-1 draw with the Young Lions in a Singapore Cup tie on Monday. The trio are the biggest names and the best-paid players in the SPL, with Kim and Lestienne reportedly on million-dollar contracts.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, the FAS confirmed that the trio have been fined as the post-match handshake is mandatory. Under Article 31.1 of the Singapore Cup 2022 regulations, it states that: “Players from both the teams are required to assemble at the centre circle with the match officials for a post-match handshake. Any player who fails to do so shall be issued with a mandatory fine of $500.00.”
The FAS added that this is the first time this season that a player has been found guilty of this offence.
Lopes, 28, became the SPL’s first million-dollar player in January 2021 when the Sailors paid €1.8 million (S$2.89 million) to Portuguese Primeira Liga side Rio Ave for his services. Kim, 34, then became the league’s highest-paid footballer last November when he was signed on a three-year deal that is understood to be worth more than $3 million. In February, Lestienne, 30, became the Sailors’ latest star signing when he inked a two-year deal. The Sailors declined to reveal the total cost of Lestienne’s package then.
The match on Monday was a keenly contested affair despite the fact that SPL runners-up Sailors ended the recently concluded league 49 points ahead of the Young Lions, who finished bottom of the eight-team competition. The game saw seven yellow cards dished out, with four to the Young Lions and three to the Sailors.
There was also a controversial moment in the 69th minute when Kim, who had already been booked earlier in the game, avoided a second yellow card despite looking like he had caught Young Lions captain Shah Shahiran with an elbow. The South Korean forward went on to score his side’s equaliser five minutes later.
Badri Ghent, the Sailors’ sporting director, said the three players have apologised for their conduct.
He said: “Their actions were borne out of frustration from the team’s performance and the result of that game, and they have all given their firm commitment to ensuring that there will be no repeat of such actions in the future. The club does not condone unsportsmanlike behaviour and will not contest the fines that have been meted out as punishment for the players’ lapses.”
It has not been the most memorable year for the Sailors apart from a historic Asian Champions League campaign, where their tally of seven points meant they had the best showing by a Singapore side in the tournament. Their run included a 3-0 victory over South Korean side Daegu FC.
In October, they surrendered the SPL title to Albirex Niigata. And in August, the Sailors and Tampines Rovers were sanctioned by the FAS over incidents that took place during, and after, their SPL encounter.
Sailors head coach Kim Do-hoon – who has since parted ways with the club – received a $2,000 fine and a three-match suspension for violent conduct and the two clubs were also fined $5,000 each for the conduct of their teams.
On the football front, they are staring at an embarrassing early exit from the Singapore Cup. They have just two points in Group A after draws with the Young Lions and Balestier Khalsa in their opening matches.
They will have to beat Albirex in their final group match on Saturday to progress to the semi-finals. A draw will not be good enough if either Balestier or the Young Lions are able to clinch a victory in their clash.
Their recent run has piled the pressure on interim coach Luka Lalic, who succeeded Kim.
In 11 local matches which include the SPL and Singapore Cup, the Serb, who is the technical director of the Sailors’ academy, has a 45.4 per cent win rate while his predecessor, who oversaw 20 local matches this season, had a win rate of 70 per cent.
A season-ending knee injury to key Brazilian defender Pedro Henrique in September has also not helped.
An early Cup exit on Saturday against Albirex will compound a miserable campaign.