WHEN the Tiger Woods scandal broke recently, it resonated too close to home for the wife of a local professional footballer.
Like the superstar golfer, her husband’s fame as a footballer drew many female admirers, a few of whom had no qualms about throwing themselves at him despite his married status.
Like Woods, he received late-night text messages and had an affair with pub hostesses, his wife alleged.
Sophia (not her real name) said that her marriage crumbled as a result of her husband’s straying ways.
And she blames it on his football fame.
Said Sophia, who is in her 20s: “Women do throw themselves at him... Even knowing that he is married with kids, they didn’t mind.”
She said she knows of other wives in a similar situation.
“I know Singapore is small and our footballers don’t earn as much as those overseas,” she told The New Paper on Sunday.
But she suspects there may be a growing trend of married footballers having flings and mistresses.
We are not identifying Sophia and her husband to protect their children.
The husband declined to be interviewed for this report.
Sophia said her husband had a reputation as a “playboy” and she thought he would change his ways after settling down with her.
But she was wrong.
A year after their marriage, he got involved with another woman, she alleged.
Sophia claimed that this woman even told others that she had conducted their affair at his house – Sophia’s matrimonial home.
She also alleged that when she was pregnant, her husband had a nine-month affair with a pub hostess.
She claimed another hostess even wrote on her blog that she was having an affair with her husband, was pregnant and that he was leaving his wife for her.
“She even put up pictures of them locking lips,” she said.
For years, she said, she had tolerated the late-night SMSes he received, as well as the intimate online messsages on networking sites and messaging services like MSN, Friendster, Tagged and Facebook.
She also had to face the embarrassment of other people telling her they saw her man with another woman.
Sophia said she had hung on to try and make the marriage work for the sake of their children.
She claimed she finally hit the roof when he asked her whether he could take a second wife.
Sophia said: “I couldn’t see anything else but him. My life was him. So when he told me that he wants to get a new wife, I totally flipped.
“Words cannot exactly describe my feelings, but it was devastating.”
But, as Sophia says, she is not alone.
When The New Paper on Sunday spoke to past and present footballers to verify her claims, only a few dismissed her claims.
Bees to honey
According to some players, certain women would flock to them like bees to honey. And some players didn’t mind the attention.
Said a former Singapore international who requested anonymity: “What do you expect from alpha-males who are at the top of their physical prowess, have a high disposable income, are relatively famous and have time to kill on their hands?
“Even if they don’t go looking for girls, the girls will come looking for them. It’s part and parcel of the game.”
He said the women hang out where the players are – around the stadiums at training sessions and on match day and at the nightspots where the players hang out.
“And the players are proud of it. They boast about their encounters and dates with the girls in the dressing room, even sharing details. Then everyone will have a big laugh about it,” he said.
He said the women usually go for foreign players, who are highly paid, new to Singapore, and sometimes away from their wives.
He admitted that he even had his own female stalker, a Japanese woman living here.
“One day, she handed me a love letter while I was with my girlfriend! First thing I did was to ask my girlfriend to open the letter and read it aloud to me. It is my gesture to her that I am being open about this, that I have nothing to hide,” he said.
Former national footballer Tan Kim Leng, 31, admitted that temptation exists.
“Scandals, there definitely are,” he said.
But the attitude among footballers here is to keep such talk in the dressing room.
When asked if whether there is a “trend” among local players to have flings and mistresses, he said there could be.
When pressed on what he meant, he said: “We have too much freedom as a profession.”
He added: “I can’t really comment. I myself also have a problem. I’m not saying I have no problem.”
He revealed that he has been separated from his wife for three years. He admitted a third party was involved, but declined to comment further.
Many female fans
A former S-League foreign player, who declined to be named, said he had so many females coming up to him that his team-mates used to say he should have his own fan club.
Many of them were just schoolgirls.
He said: “One of them gave me a sexy picture of herself and I was shocked. She said she can show me more at my place.”
He also spoke of another girl who was passed around the players.
“She would be with this player today, then another player next week, then another player the week after. She just liked to be with footballers, it seemed,” he said.
“No jealousy among those players because they are not stupid. They, too, know that there weren’t any true feelings involved. It was just companionship.”
But there are pitfalls.
One girl he went out with on one date went around telling her friends and schoolmates he was her boyfriend, even “going berserk” when other girls tried to talk to him, he said.
However, not everyone buys into the stories of footballers’ wild lifestyles.
Suria artiste Norfasarie Mohd Yahya, 26, who is married to national footballer Baihakki Khaizan, said one should not tar the whole profession based on a few individuals.
She said: “You can’t say all footballers are like that. It’s unfair. I used to fly. If I say all stewardesses are like that, it’s not fair. To me, it’s up to the individual.”
She said she has never felt threatened by her husband’s fame.
“I’m in showbiz, so I know what it feels like,” she said.
“I have seen fans go up to him, wanting to take pictures with him, and female fans hug him. I’m okay with that because I do face such situations myself.”
Singapore striker Aleksander Duric, 38, said that when the national players stay together in a hotel, it is impossible – at least under current national coach Raddy Avramovic – to get up to any hanky-panky.
“We have discipline. We know exactly what time we sleep, we eat and have meetings. I tell you, it’s impossible to sneak out or do anything like that.”
The veteran striker added that women have never thrown themselves at him.
However, he concedes that in the age of Facebook and online networking, anyone can approach you to be a friend.
“You have to be careful if you don’t know the people. Who knows what they want from you?”
And Duric believes he has hit upon the ideal way to ensure that nothing goes amiss in his marriage: He keeps nothing from his wife.
He keeps things open by sharing a Facebook account with his wife. She even has access to his e-mail, he said.
This article was first published in The New Paper.