The supporters of S.League club Hougang United have rallied to campaign for striker Mamadou Diallo to stay in Singapore after his work permit renewal was rejected.
The 23-year-old Guinean, who has been plying his trade in the S.League since 2008, recently saw his application for an S-Pass refused by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) at least three times before the deadline on January 24.
“The MOM just rejected my work permit, I really don't know what is going on,” Diallo told Goal Singapore when contacted earlier in the week.
Suppporters have since set up a Facebook page named “Diallo for Hougang” to raise awareness, with an e-petition to MOM put up on the same day as well.
Part of the petition’s description stated that "no reason was provided by the authority for the rejection but we suspect that it could be due to... a limitation of work permit issued to Africans".
"It is a last-ditch effort from us (Hougang fans) to try to change the decision of the authorities; there is no guarantee of success, but we are trying," said Lance Lai, who set up the petition.
Lai also indicated that he wrote in to MOM acting minister Tan Chuan Jin on Wednesday and received a reply that stated MOM would look into the matter.
"Until I receive another reply from MOM, the situation is as it is," he explained. "MOM did not specify a date for a reply; we are just keeping our fingers crossed."
The petition has since made it rounds on social media and has been signed by players like Baihakki Khaizan, Indra Sahdan and club-mates Lau Meng Meng and Syaqir Sulaiman, amongst others.
"I knew Diallo personally and he is a very nice young chap," Baihakki commented. "A respectful young man, Diallo has adapted to the community very well and has never created any major problem both on and off the football pitch."
"A truly amazing professional who has displayed humility and dedication towards his only passion, football," Syaqir commented. "Please grant him the chance to provide for his family through the job he currently has here."
Goal Singapore understands that the club has tried "everything humanly possible" to help Diallo, whose existing permit is due to expire at the end of this week. He is expected to leave Singapore on Thursday.
Diallo was voted the 2013 Yeo’s People Choice Award winner at the S.League Awards last year and has been a key player for the Cheetahs in the past seasons.