Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has put pen to paper with Tampines Rovers to be the S-League’s highest paid player, but a veteran sports journalist, Suresh Nair, has taken issue with how the the club Chairman had chosen to assimilate the player into local culture.
At the ceremony to announce the signing, Pennant said that he has learnt a Singlish phrase, -and egged-on by the ex-club Chairman, Teo Hock Seng, he uttered the phrase, “referee kayu!”
— ST Sports Desk (@STsportsdesk) January 19, 2016
Reserving his harshest criticism for Mr Teo, Suresh asked, “is this the way, Mr Teo, you baptise the former England striker to make a mockery of the men-in-black, the judges of S-League, at a full-house press conference on Tuesday at Komoco Motors?”
“Is this the disgraceful, dishonourable, disreputable and degrading way, you slap the referees in the face the Pennant-way, knowing very well that the 33-year-old footballer already has an ill-mannered repute with his unsporting behaviour in his decade-long career?”, he added.
He also asked the club’s ex-boss how he thought the referees here will react to the S-League’s highest paid player if he jeers them publicly and how the major newspapers and websites, both locally and overseas, will carry such news.
Pennant who has never been able to shake-off the bad-boy image surrounding him, has had clashes with soccer officials and disagreements with refereeing decisions throughout his career in football.
The journalist said that in his view, the “public rendition of “referee kayu” is as demeaning, derogatory, despicable and distressing as how an Israeli Embassy staff in Singapore last month used a Singapore flag as a table cloth at a party, which immediately drew an apology from the Israeli government”.
In his post, he asked the S-League to take a serious view of he incident, and to demand a public apology from the club, as well as the former chairman.
“Football judges, who do a volunteer night S-League job after a regular day’s work, must be respected and never ever humiliated in public,” Suresh reminded.
“Shame on you, Tampines Rovers!” exclaimed the journalist.