SINGAPORE: Singapore's national football coach has apologised for his comments made to a Sikh reporter during a pre-match press conference here last week, a media report said Friday.
"The FAS regrets that Fandi Ahmad's comments during the pre-match press conference on 6 Sept for the match between Singapore and Mauritius have upset members of the Sikh community," Channel News Asia reported, citing a statement from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Both Fandi and FAS have contacted the reporter, Dilenjit Singh, and the Sikh Advisory Board to "explain, apologise and clarify" the matter, the statement said.
"Singh gracefully accepted our explanation and apology. Our discussion with the Sikh Advisory Board has also revealed that the comments could be hurtful to the Sikh community even though they were not made with any malicious intent," it said.
A Change.org petition was started on Thursday calling on the national coach to apologise. Fandi is also a former star footballer having played at the national level as well as in local and international tournaments.
According to the petition, which has around 290 supporters, Fandi made the remarks after Singh posed a question about players' skill and technique during the press conference at Oasia Hotel here.
"You said that in terms of skill and technique, some of our rivals in the region have overtaken us.
How would that affect you wanting to play the good football which you are known for," Singh was said to have asked, according to the petition.
Fandi reportedly replied: "We have not all bad. I can't condemn anybody because our system is different from others. I can't say it also, as it is against the Government.
"You know if I say it loud, you know, you will be seeing your turban would be gone." The petition also added that Fandi's comments were followed by laughter.