Singaporean referee Sukhbir Singh was the target of online racist comments during and after the recent International Champions Cup game between Inter Milan and Chelsea.
The 33-year-old Sikh ref made several controversial decisions while in charge of Saturday’s match at the National Stadium in Singapore in which Inter Milan beat Chelsea 2-1. After the game, several fans expressed their resentment on Twitter, criticizing Singh’s ethnicity.
Sport should united, not divide says Singh
Singh told the press that he wasn’t affected by racist comments because he hadn’t read them. “I wouldn't say I'm affected by it because I haven't read the tweets, but that doesn't mean I condone racism. It's something that definitely needs to be looked into”, he explained. “There should not be any bias towards anyone's race. Everyone should be allowed to believe in what they believe in freely and participate in what they want to participate in, especially when it comes to sport. Sport is supposed to unite people and not divide us”. He added that he hadn’t experienced racial abuse while refereeing locally.
Questionable refereeing decisions
During the match, Singh awarded a dubious penalty to Inter and later disallowed a Chelsea equaliser with another borderline decision. Despite bitter online comments, the Singaporean referee defended his performance. “No match official will go onto the pitch saying, 'I want to have a bad day or I just want to mess everything up'... I wouldn't say it was a difficult game to referee, but I'll say it was challenging like any other game”.
Kick It Out to investigate racist slurs
In a move praised by Singh, Kick It Out, a British-anti discrimination bureau, is investigating the incident. Lim Kia Tong, president of the Singapore Football Association (FAS) said his organization condemns racism and is willing to support Kick It Out. “The FAS stands with organizations such as Kick It Out who are dedicated to eradicating racism and discrimination from football”, he said. “Should they require our assistance, we are ready to provide them with any help they need in their investigations on the racial abuse that Sukhbir received. Furthermore, we will not hesitate to report the culprits to the authorities for their action”.