“Four or five hit me on the face…two or three Singaporeans came to help me out.” – a Vietnamese fan recounts a scary night

By |2010-07-11T00:23:06+08:00December 23rd, 2008|football, RED out loud|11 Comments
Views: 2,779

By Les Tan

National Stadium, Sunday, December 21, 2008 – When your team wins a game, you leave the stadium in a good mood, talking with your friends, minding your business while making you way to the MRT to get home.

The last thing you expect is to get physically attacked just for the colour of your jersey. That’s what happened to 29-year-old Nguyen (he declined to reveal his full name for fear of reprisals), his wife and eight other friends.

A group of unruly Singaporean fans attacked him and his friends without provocation after Singapore’s 0-1 loss to Vietnam in the second leg semi-final game of the ASEAN Football Championship (AFF Suzuki Cup).

Nguyen, who is a PhD student at the Nanyang Technological University here in Singapore, was in a group of 10 which included four women and a 2-year-old girl. He watched the game after entering the stadium through the west entrance.

“It was a mix of Vietnamese and Singaporean fans and during the game there was almost a fight but security came to settle them. It was the normal arguments between fans.

After the game, Singaporeans fans, the real ones, were friendly, and congratulated us, shaking our hands, and told us to beat Thailand for them. We told them that the Singapore team was very good and that we were very lucky.

On the way to the MRT, I saw fighting at a bus stop. Just before we came to the overhead bridge, there was a group of more than ten behind us. I head voices behind saying bad things, swearing at us. So we were scared.

We didn’t say anything to them.

I was hit from behind on the head and the face and they pushed me down. My wife very scared and cried. My other friends were also attacked but my wife wasn’t attacked. I was wearing the white Vietnamese team jersey.

My leg was bleeding. when I stood up again, four or five hit me on the face and the head and the back. After that I felt dizzy and didn’t know what happened.

Then two or three Singaporeans came to help me out and they asked me to take off my shirt.

Our group of 10 got separated during the attack but we called each other and regrouped. The police then came and stood with us for half an hour and the ambulance came to treat me and my friends. Our injuries were not too serious but we very scared.

We never expected it to happen to us in Singapore. It’s just a game. I feel very sad.”

Ed’s note: To read another two first-person accounts of the attack, go to the comments section below.

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Related story:
Sore losers burn Vietnamese flag and beat up rival supporters after second leg semi-final loss to Vietnam

11 Comments

  1. les December 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    @Ted – thanks for the YouTube link.

  2. les December 25, 2008 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks to justaword and Thanh for sharing their first person account of the attack.

    They are part of the group of 10 who were attacked as described in the post above.

    Obviously, there are stupid fans on both sides, both Vietnamese and Singaporeans, who are at fault.

    In both instances, they are the stupid minority.

    Stupidity does not know any boundary. All races and ethnic groups have them.

    Whoever has committed criminal acts should be charged. I’m surprised that the auxiliary police did not arrest people. All they did was separate trouble makers and disperse the crowd.

    They leave the idiots inside the crowd, and now that they are all fired up emotionally, go on and cause trouble somewhere else outside.

  3. Zatopek December 25, 2008 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Perhaps the police would like to comment on the issue. Could it be another case of complacency? Are the auxillary police capable of handling riots or fights? They should have forseen the possible tension when you have a big group of fans for the visiting team. Luckily for us, this could become a major riot and cause deaths. This is so shameful.

  4. bing December 25, 2008 at 2:32 am - Reply

    this is an absolute disgrace to singapore and it should never have been allowed to happen.. security should probably have been tighter.. it is very disappointing and embarrassing to hear that such things happen in singapore. not all singaporeans act this way, but those who do should be dealt with severely. it is a pity our vietnamese visitors very so terribly unfortunate to have met with the disgraceful and immoral ones in our population.. this is really such a sad thing to hear about our countrymen.. i hope this never ever happens again.

  5. Ted December 25, 2008 at 12:43 am - Reply

    I think fighting is wrong. However, the responsibility is not solely on the Singapore supporters. Some of the Vietnamese fans also contributed to this. You can see what happen in this video captured live at the stadium after the game.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIM0AtVYVf0&feature=related

  6. lynn December 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    i too saw the fight between the malay guy & the westerners too. was sitting behind the last row of vietnamese. but i left the stadium early in order to avoid the crowd. so didn’t managed to see the fight

    frankly,i’m really disappointed with those people who acted so violently just because they lose a match. i mean c’mon, the ball is round, anything can happen. vietnam won and is in the finals, period.beating up our visitors really tarnish the reputation of singapore. isn’t singapore suppose to be a refine country?

    i know how sad singaporeans were because we were gunning for our 3rd consecutive title, i too myself was very disappointed over the loss,but having such unruly behavior is uncalled for.

    throughout the game,i notice how friendly the vietnamese people were. even when the malay guy mocked at them, they didn’t even retaliate & treated it as a joke, laughing it off.

    i really hope that those hooligans will be dealt with severely.

  7. H.Thanh Le December 24, 2008 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    We, a group of Vietnamese students and officers working in Singapore, gathered together to buy tickets and came to the National Stadium. However, I came with two friends from NTU and did not meet others in group until we all were inside the stadium.

    Because I and two friends left the Stadium quite early, walking to Kallang MRT Station then were luckily not involved in any fight that night after the match. But I were one among fans (Vietnamese, Singaporeans and others) entering through West Gate and saw strange issues.

    1. We were checked by Security and CISCO team on the gate to make sure we did not bring anything that would violate the ban rules printed on back of ticket. We did not, of course. I even agreed myself that Singaporeans prepared well for the match and had good feeling that we would have a very good time with enoumous number of people around.

    However, when I saw they sold water and drink with paper box and even bottles seem to be made by plastic I asked my friends how would it be safe for fans from someone throwing those bottles and boxes with full of fluid inside? Why didn’t they keep drink in small clear plastic bags.

    2. Later, there began boxes and bottles threw from the higher seats to the field and mainly to place where vietnamese fans were cheering. Among vietnamese fans there were Singaporeans, at least one western family of dad and two sons whom I saw. So boxes and bottles flew to us and hit many of us. Even there was a big argument among western family (Mr. Daddy) with a big, fat, dark skin guy seated about 7 rows above. Seems that guy threw a bottle and it hit Mr. Daddy. Security officers came immediately but later Mr. Daddy and two sons left the stadium angrily.

    When Vietnam team got the first and only goal, we roared and more bottles were thrown to us then. After the match, we stayed abit later for cheering our team and also, bottles boxes continued aiming at us. I looked back, saw at least 2 security officers standing among us and other fans in upper seats but no obvious activities done. Looked down on the field, there were at least 4 “black T-Shirt” guys facing to us but also having no reponse, nothing to the ugly act. For what purpose did they have the walkie-talkies? what’s the plan for securing the match after all? ( I reminde the match of Singapore-Vietnam month ago for TigerBeer trophy, whenever there was something looked strange and potential violation, security team appeared and react very positively)
    Not enough security. Just wonder what would happen if there were fight among fans on the stadium?

    3. While most of fans concentrated to the match, roaring politely and funny, making waves and very nice shaking hands, cheering after the match, some are not good and obviously intentionally to start fight against Vietnamese fans.

    Those guys roared “butoh”. They spoke rude words. They threw bottles and rubbish. They attacked vietnamese fans.

    They make me think carefully the fact that: in Singapore, I would not be safe. I have been telling my friends that: “you are very safe in Singapore even you go home late, alone”. But it’s not true. That time, we were more than one, going among many other people and we were intentionally attacked.

    Generally, I love Singapore because this country tiny but developed, safe, clean, peaceful. I think what happened is just a minority issue cause by a few bad guys. I hope the relevant authorities may solve the problem and hope the same won’t occur in the future.

  8. justaword December 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I was one of the victims….

    After the match, we stayed back for awhile and took photo to celebrate victory of our National team. Our group (almost 10 people, including female and child) took a walk to have supper with fox porridge and drank beer, cheering for the great history (it had been 10 years since we lost Singapore National team in Tiger Cup in Ha Noi).

    On the way we met many Singapore supporters. They were so friendly, kept saying “Congratulation Vietnam” and “Try to beat Thailand”. Some of them also had hand shake with us.

    On the way to the bus stop number 2 just around 5 minutes (near the walk over bridge) from the stadium, I saw some people running fast, just thought that they tried to get on crowded bus. (After that, I knew some Vietnamese students had been attacked.)

    There would be something wrong, as I heard a lot of dirty words “f**k Vietnamese…” on and on and a whole bunches of offensive actions to us.

    So I told my friends that “keep walking fast as in my group had child”. We split into 2 groups, and intended to regroup after crossing the bridge.

    My friend and his wife, as usually walked very slowly. I kept telling them to walk faster as the crowd got closer and closer to us.

    I saw around 10 dark complexioned guys from 20 to 25 years old. They walked along with us, and continuously saying very offensive words.

    There was one guy, asked for shaking hand with my friend. My friend gave his hand to him friendly. No one could expect, suddenly my friend got a punch to his face from the guy just shook hand with.

    Then the rest of them started to attack him with no reason. “Help, help!” his wife shouted, they were very scared and tried to run away but attackers already surrounded them.

    I couldn’t believe this thing could happen in Singapore where safety as well as hospitality both is recognized.

    We never experience such circumstances here. So just in a second, I went back just try to ask them to stop. And it seemed that they changed the target.

    I had a feeling they just need to find Vietnamese to attack. One then two, and may be five attacked me. My first respond was running away from them and tried to avoid any injuries.

    I ran to the overhead bridge where there were some of my friends who were crossing the bride, but unfortunately one of the guys caught my left leg. I was pushed to the road fence near the bridge. I fell down due to their pushing. I tried to stand back as quick as possible.

    They started punching and kicking me. What I could do is using my hands and my legs to protect the important parts of my plumpy body (head, upper body).

    Luckily, my friends in the first group came back and helped me. I lost my glasses, one of my shoes and got a lot of scratches on my body (bleeding at my knee and my toe).

    However, my friends who tried to cover for me still received unexpected presents from the wild crowd. They got punches, kicks on the face…It seemed that they still want to attack us, but when some of people shouted that they took photos and report, and my friend said that “please calm down, STOP…..” they stopped and run, not because of my friends but they saw another group of Vietnamese supporters, around 15 students from MIDS, and SIM.

    I don’t know what would had happened if that group had not been our friends.

    After that I came to Medical vehicle near the overhead bridge to ask for help, my knee was bleeding, looked very terrible.

    Police and CISCO were around the overhead bridge. I intended to report to police but how I could not remember their faces….A few more police were coming.

    They stayed with us while we called and waited for taxi. After a while, we decided to go home by MRT since there were not any taxis available at that time.

  9. zenta December 24, 2008 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Personally, as a foreigner living here for 4 years, I love and proud of the peaceful and friendly of Singaporeans very much. If we compare to other hooligan violence cases happened over the world, this bad behavior of a small group of Singapore supporters is a very small case. However, it really diluted the safety and friendly image of Singapore. I hope that Singaporeans should look at all the happened things and don’t lets the same happen again.

  10. Greenrover December 24, 2008 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Certainly disappointing to here all this. It does seem that the lack of a decent police presence was a major factor.

    Normally Vietnamese and Singaporeans co-exist well together and Singapore fans can’t complain about Indonesian fans in Jakarta now after this has happened.

    I missed this game through being out of the country.

    Mounted police and weight of police and security numbers are used when crowds of over 10,000 are present for matches overseas when crowds can so easily get out of control.

    That may have to happen in Singapore to deter these cowards.

  11. HY December 23, 2008 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    I’m really ashamed to hear such things happening, how will others think of us now.

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