FAS Head Bernard Tan Apologised After Responding to Netizen Like a Primary School Kid Following S’pore Loss

If you didn’t already know, the Young Lions suffered a 7-0 loss at the SEA Games on 11 May.

It’s a big hoo-ha because it was the team’s worst defeat at the Games since 1971.

Of course, local fans were upset.

They took to social media to express their outrage, with one even calling for the head of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to step down.

Nobody expected interim FAS president Bernard Tan to reply.

Furthermore, he responded with something you would hear in a fight between Primary school kids.

The Incident

On Tan’s Instagram page, user nic_8276 said, “If you had any concern about the national team, then resign now! You are not worthy of the paycheck!”

Image: Facebook (@SingaBrigade)

As seen from the timestamp of the comments, Tan replied to the fan almost immediately.

Issuing a “one-time offer”, Tan challenged the user.

He wrote, “Instead of abusing here. Abuse me face to face. Let’s meet.”

He included his official FAS email address in the comment and continued, “I will leave your comment for 24 hours. After which, I will delete you. It’s my wall.”

Tan also said he doesn’t get paid as interim FAS president.

The user replied, “Like I said, you can’t just leave Singapore fans in the dark. If things keep going like this, the game we love will die.”

Notably, the user didn’t directly respond to Tan’s “offer”.

Since then, Tan has deleted the interaction.

However, screenshots of this interaction have been reposted on Facebook and Reddit.

Tan Apologises

Since then, Tan has made his Instagram account private.

Image: Instagram (@bernardtanfas)

His account’s bio has also been replaced with “sorry”.

According to AsiaOne, Tan posted a Facebook post on his private account on 12 May.

He wrote, “I’ve always wanted to be more open, even through social media. They’re many who have offered constructive feedback and perceptions.

“But the events of last night led to emotions running high with some abuse on my social media from unfamiliar accounts. I regret responding and I apologise deeply. I am sorry.”

He urged netizens to send in supportive messages to the national team.

He added that FAS had advised that open engagement with stakeholders was “best done in formal, organised settings”.

He said, “Tough questions will be asked over the next two weeks, and we will do this openly.”

According to Channel News Asia, Tan also posted an apology on his private Instagram account on 12 May.

He called the 7-0 defeat “one of the worst nights in our history”.

Referencing the interaction, he wrote, “I regret responding and apologise deeply. I hold myself to a higher standard. I am human. I was hurting too.”

In response to queries from Channel News Asia, Tan said, “I appreciate the support that people have conveyed to me and the FAS.”

Netizen Response

Tan’s aggressive comments towards the fan did not sit well with netizens.

Singapore football fan group SingaBrigade took to Facebook to express their disappointment in Tan’s behaviour.

They wrote that Tan’s response was “shocking”.

They noted that while Tan’s comment was “non-personal and with no vulgarities”, it was “totally overflowing with sarcasm”.

The group questioned Tan’s lack of humility when interacting with fans.

Netizens on Reddit also pointed out Tan’s lack of professionalism.

Image: Reddit (r/Singapore)

There was also scepticism surrounding Tan’s claim of not being paid.

A netizen shared, “I don’t know if all National Sports Associations’ Presidents are unpaid, but those I know are really unpaid.

Image: Reddit (r/Singapore)

“It’s a thankless job. They need to manage grants, donations, funds, work with Sports SG, a lot of vendors, organise events, venue scouting, National Training, plan athlete pathways, travel for Games etc. It’s a peer-assigned/voted-volunteer “job” IMO.

“The only perk is the travel, from what I see. But for the work and stress that come with it, I am not sure it fits worth it. One must really have passion for the spot.”

However, it is unknown if what the netizen shared is accurate.

Another netizen cited Tan’s history of being Singapore’s spy chief as a possible reason for his lack of tact.

Image: Reddit (r/Singapore)

A netizen wrote that they understood where Tan was coming from but still felt that his response was “a bad idea”.

Image: Reddit (r/Singapore)

Bernard Tan

Tan began serving as interim FAS president in September 2022 following the death of sitting president Lim Kia Tong.

Lim had died of a heart attack, and FAS decided not to rush to elect its new leader.

He has been the deputy president of FAS since 2017 and previously served as the FAS’s vice president since 2013.

The next FAS election is set for 2025. 

Young Lion’s Worst Defeat Since 1971

On 11 May, Singapore suffered its worst defeat at the SEA Games football competition since 1971.

The Young Lions lost 7-0 to Malaysia.

This defeat meant Singapore finished its 2023 SEA Games football tournament behind Laos at rock bottom in Group B.

This year is the first time Singapore has ended their SEA Games campaign without a single victory in the football tournament.

Singapore coach Philippe Aw said, “There was only one team in this game today and it was Malaysia. It was one-way traffic after we conceded.

“With regards to my future, it is not important at this current point. What we need to reflect on is, if we don’t do anything going forward, we will just get worse.

“For me, I have been given a task to do this job with my staff. We have given our best and, if it is not good enough, it’s OK; we can find the next person. Let’s look at the ecosystem, the process.”

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Other SEA Games Drama

Some Indonesians were unhappy after Singapore won the gold medal in e-sports during the SEA Games. 

If you didn’t know, the gold medal was a joint medal between Singapore and Indonesia.

Indonesia alleged that the Singapore team used a Cypher bug during the Mixed Valorant (PC) team event final.

Cypher bugs track the opposition team’s positions during the game.

Since Valorant is a first-person shooter, a Cypher bug would make things more manageable… and possibly provide an unfair advantage. 

In response, Singapore Esports Association (SGEA) secretary Kelvin Tan said that the rules did not mention the prohibition of Cypher bugs.

The teams eventually decided to share the gold medal, prompting online backlash from Indonesian fans.