Police report filed against high-profile Singapore sports agent Hafidz Ja’afar

A police report has been filed against one of Singapore’s up-and-coming sports agents.

Football fan A. Abdul made the report on Sunday after Mr Hafidz Ja’afar failed to deliver 12 tickets for the International Champions Cup (ICC) matches last weekend.

The police confirmed yesterday to The Straits Times that a report had been lodged against Mr Hafidz, and investigations are ongoing.

Mr Hafidz is better known as the former spokesman for Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, assisting the Schooling family with media queries following the swimmer’s stunning victory at the 2016 Rio Games.

He was, until last week, working for Schooling’s swim school – known as Swim Schooling – on a part-time basis. It is understood that his employment was terminated last Friday.

The school put up a notice on its Facebook page on Wednesday saying that Mr Hafidz “is not au-thorised to transact any business, collect any monies or act in any capacity whatsoever on behalf of our company”.

In a statement to ST, Schooling’s representatives said Mr Hafidz was sacked “when he could not be contacted, despite several attempts”, and that “a police report has been made, and we can’t comment further”.

The statement added: “We will reach out to all Swim Schooling students and rectify any issues as best as we can. We are hopeful that the reputation of the school will not be affected. After all, Hafidz was just a small part of the administration team. Swim Schooling upholds the values we strongly believe in and we took action immediately upon learning something was amiss.”

Mr Abdul, 36, who said he has known Mr Hafidz for close to 20 years, had purchased tickets worth $596.60 from him back in April after the latter had reached out to him on Facebook, saying that he had discounted tickets for both ICC matches.

When there was no news about the tickets over the next few weeks, he contacted Mr Hafidz, who told him that the Singapore Sports Hub had not given him the tickets. Mr Abdul took his word for it, but grew suspicious when the tickets still had not arrived by late last month.

On different occasions, Mr Hafidz told him that he had been hospitalised for kidney stones, that he had received the tickets but they were wrong, and that he was on an overseas work trip.

Mr Abdul was e-mailed the “tickets” only the day before last Saturday’s game between Manchester United and Inter Milan, but received a rude shock when his ticket was rejected when he tried to enter the stadium on the day of the match.

“It was invalid, and even the details were incorrect. It had my name on it and customer number, but apparently it belonged to somebody else, a Chinese person,” he said. “The counter checked under Hafidz’s phone number, but no tickets had been purchased under that.”

He then tried calling Mr Hafidz, but the calls went to voicemail and his WhatsApp account had been deregistered. Attempts to contact him through social media platforms also fell through.

Previously, Mr Abdul had bought several other products like Oakley sunglasses and adidas apparel from Mr Hafidz at discounted prices.

According to a report in Today, Mr Hafidz had told another man, who claimed he had been scammed, that “he had a contact at Sports Hub who could provide a 20 per cent discount off tickets to the Manchester United game”.

When contacted, the Sports Hub denied this, telling ST that it “does not provide discounted tickets to staff for any event”. “We do not condone any ticket resale via non-authorised points of sale,” it said.

It urged the public to purchase tickets through its authorised sales channels.

Mr Hafidz first came to media attention when he was a member of the Singapore Swimming Association’s communications team. After Schooling’s 2016 success, he acted as the principal channel of access to the swimmer, who was much sought after on his return from Brazil.

Mr Hafidz subsequently left the association’s fold to act as Schooling’s spokesman.

In 2017, he founded sports agency Equatre Asia with Mr Kevin Wong, a former colleague at the Singapore Sports School.

But Mr Wong, who is the Singapore National Paralympic Council chairman and also president of the Singapore Disability Sports Council, cut ties with Mr Hafidz about 11/2 years ago, upon discovering that the latter was using the company invoice for personal projects.

He told ST: “It is disappointing that it has reached this stage… He had a promising career, and I hope he figures out his life.”

Mr Hafidz could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The timing of the scandal is rather unfortunate for Schooling, who will be racing in the heats of his pet event, the 100m but-terfly, at the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea, this morning.

However, his father Colin told ST that “everyone around him is protecting him so that he doesn’t have to know and doesn’t have to deal with this garbage”, while a statement from the swimmer’s representatives insisted that he was “focused on his remaining races”.

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