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Sazali Abdul Aziz
The Straits Times
July 31, 2022
A coach at a private football academy here has been sacked after allegedly sending a lewd photograph over WhatsApp to two female teenaged players under his charge.
Sources told The Straits Times on Sunday (July 31) that the incident happened during a youth football tournament that took place overseas earlier this month.
When contacted, a spokesman for the academy involved confirmed that it had terminated the employment of the coach after a "thorough investigation with all parties involved".
"The coach was suspended from duty immediately when the matter was reported and has since been released from his contract with the academy," added the spokesman.
"The players involved have also been offered counselling sessions and discussions with parents are ongoing."
She added that the coach has been offered the option to undergo a psychiatric assessment for which "appropriate treatment can be recommended".
As a result of the incident, the academy said it would beef up safety procedures - including doubling the frequency of courses which aim to educate coaches on what is required for a safe and secure environment for athletes - in a bid to avoid a repeat of the incident.
"All coaches undergo safeguarding courses on an annual basis but moving forward, we will increase the sessions to twice a year," said the spokesman.
"All coaches will also be subject to full security background checks by an authorised third party to ensure a secure and safe environment for all."
ST understands that no reports to a higher authority - such as the police or the Safe Sport Commission - have been made.
When queried about this, the spokesman said: "We are in discussions and consultation with the parents of the player as to how and when the appropriate reports should be made."
The Safe Sport Commission, a body set up by national agency Sport Singapore in partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Singapore Police Force and the Ministry of Education, was launched in 2019 after the issue of harassment in sport came to the fore, following several prominent cases of sexual misconduct around the world.
Locally, there were several cases, including one in 2018 where a football coach was given 26 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting seven boys aged between eight and 11.
In 2020, an athletics coach was sentenced to 21 months' jail after he was found guilty of molesting an 18-year-old athlete under his charge.