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.