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Fantastic Football and Plenty of Prayers at Albirex


A young Albirex cheerleader offering her prayers for the victims of the events of March 11 in Japan. (Photo: SSC/ Bibek Gurung)


The match required a fantastically struck free kick, which nestled in the bottom corner, by Etoile’s Maxime Belouet to decide the tie between defending S.League champions Etoile FC and their host Albirex Niigata at the Jurong East Stadium on March 17. But football almost seemed to take a backseat on the night as 1,855 fans turned up to show their support for the S.League’s sole Japanese side who were raising funds during the game to aid the victims back home from the March 11 tragedy.

 

Gate receipts from the almost 500 paying fans at the match were donated to Civic Force, a Non-Governmental Organisation specializing in emergency response to large scale natural disasters, such as the one which hit Japan. Club sponsor Canon too, will donate to Civic Force the proceeds from its fund raising drive through match day photo sales. Money collected from donation boxes around the stadium will also be channeled to the Red Cross.

 

The Football Association of Singapore also contributed as it waived its seven percent levy on gate collections so that the maximum amount could be collected for the relief fund, while fans from Etoile also passed around the hat before the match and presented over to the club an undisclosed amount.

 

Prior to the kickoff, the French and Japanese players stood locked in an embrace during the one minute of silence for Japan and her people, remembering those who died and also as a fitting tribute to the stoic survivors of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck north-east Japan on March 11.

 

While there were no punches pulled during the match, both sides gave all they could for the three precious S.League points in the keenly contested match. There was good spirit shown by both teams and after the game, players from Etoile got together to hold up a banner offering ‘Our prayers For Japan’.


After the game, players from Etoile got together to hold up a banner offering their prayers for Japan in a show of solidarity with their Japanese opponents for the night. (Photo: SSC/Bibek Burung)

 

“There is a lot of solidarity between Japan and France and I believe we showed it tonight through the players and fans actions,” declared Etoile coach Guglielmo Arena.

 

“I would like to thank the fans, especially to thank Etoile FC for their support in this game. I’m grateful to everyone who has supported us,” said Albirex coach Koichi Sugiyama. “The world has been very united and I’m very touched by it.”