Singapore, don’t blame the players, blame the incompetent local game

The Young Lions should not be savaged for another SEA Games failure, when Singapore is simply not set up for football success, argues Neil Humphreys...

Blame it on the kids. Blame a dodgy back four for another woeful SEA Games campaign. Blame a couple of lapses in concentration for the Young Lions’ early exit.

Shovel all our football insecurities and that nagging inferiority complex and dump the lot onto the fragile shoulders of 11 youngsters.

Let’s get it all off our chests before moving on to something that really matters, like the next Manchester United game

That’ll do it. That’ll scratch the itch and make us all feel better.

Two soft, second-half goals proved, once again, that it’s not us, it’s them; those clueless Cubs, running around aimlessly, boys against the men of Myanmar and Malaysia.

Blame them. Crucify them. Savage them on social media. Let’s get it all off our chests before moving on to something that really matters, like the next Manchester United game. 

Don’t blame the uplifting presence of thousands of giddy Myanmar supporters, overwhelming a handful of Lions devotees in the opening game, not to mention the massed ranks of Malaysians in Shah Alam Stadium.

Ignore the tumbleweeds that float across S.League stadiums, the embarrassing silence punctuated only by the manager’s barked instructions. 

Where should we be pointing the finger of blame?

Try not to dwell on the uncomfortable reality that gleeful English Premier League investors see Singapore not as a football nation, but as a handy stopover on the march to global annexation, proven by the willingness of tens of thousands to fork out high prices to watch Chelsea play low-grade football.

Don’t blame the overwhelming public and private indifference towards a local game that lacks adequate funding at just about every level

Had the numbers that turned out to watch Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan also turned up in KL, then Shah Alam would’ve been full to bursting.

Naturally, the shoe leather was spared in favour of apoplectic outbursts on social media, with Twitter and Facebook both experiencing a level of local football-related posts rarely sustained – or even witnessed – during the S.League season.

Of course, a chance to whack the Young Lions is a chance to whack the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), which in turn offers a welcome opportunity to whack the establishment, the status quo, the relevant ministries and the government itself.

And these opportunities do not come along every day – just every major tournament that involves Singapore footballers.

It’s kicking the cat in reverse, with the chain reaction going up instead of down.

The results are disappointing, but there can be no faulting the players' effort

Always point the finger of blame elsewhere. No reflective, introspective analysis required here.

Don’t blame a fragile football environment that is clearly propped up by a flourishing gambling culture, with far too much revenue coming from either Singapore Pools or jackpot rooms that prey on the elderly and the economically vulnerable.

This handicapping system ensures the kids get battered on a regular basis ... still without a victory in 13 S.League games

Don’t blame the overwhelming public and private indifference towards a local game that lacks adequate funding at just about every level.  

In 2015, it was widely reported that the FAS had an annual budget of just under $10 million, a derisory sum when compared to continental heavyweights like Japan ($264 million), China ($180 million) and Indonesia ($112 million).

But Singapore can’t even keep up with the Jones’ next door. 

Vietnam ($60 million), Thailand ($52 million) and Malaysia ($35 million) are all ball-juggling in their backyards with greater resources.

And yet, SportSG has raised concerns about how the comparatively small amounts trickling into local football – the FAS receives over $2 million in annual grants from SportSG – are being distributed.

[NEXT PAGE: The 'new' FAS council and the Young Lions' S.League batterings]