SINGAPORE: The police are investigating Joseph Schooling’s former representative Hafidz Ja’afar about claims he did not provide the tickets he was offering for sale to a recent International Champions Cup (ICC) football game played in Singapore.
“The police confirm that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing,” Singapore Police Force (SPF) told CNA on Thursday (Jul 25).
This comes after a 37-year-old man, who only wanted to be known as David, filed a police report against Mr Hafidz. In the report seen by CNA, the man claims that he paid Mr Hafidz for tickets to the Manchester United vs Inter Milan game on Saturday, but did not receive them.
Separately, Schooling’s swim school posted on Facebook on Wednesday evening that Mr Hafidz, who was a manager at the school, was “no longer in the services” of the company.
“He is not authorised to transact any business, collect any monies or act in any capacity whatsoever on behalf of our company,” Swim Schooling wrote.
David told CNA that Mr Hafidz remained uncontactable after initially providing updates on the expected delivery of the tickets.
“I didn’t expect this to happen because I’ve known him for 19 years,” said David, who works in property. “It’s more of trusting an old friend, and also I know that he’s the (former) manager of Joseph Schooling.”
READ: Schoolings appoint representative
David said Mr Hafidz first approached him via Facebook on Apr 3 saying that he had a contact at Sports Hub who could provide a 20 per cent discount off tickets to the Manchester United game.
On the same day, David transferred S$1,070.40 to Mr Hafidz via PayNow for six Category 1 tickets. David said Mr Hafidz told him Sports Hub would mail the tickets to him directly.
But two weeks after the transaction, David said Mr Hafidz told him he had received the tickets “by mistake” and that he would arrange to deliver them within that week.
“From that point till match day I would say we had arranged to meet around 70 times,” David said.
“Each time, he would say that he was hospitalised, had fainted, was in hospital doing tests and got delayed. Or he was sick, but his wife was working overtime so she couldn’t help him deliver. Then he got his cousin to help him, but the timings clashed.”
In May, David – who had also bought tickets on behalf of other friends – told Mr Hafidz that one of them was threatening to make a police report. Mr Hafidz finally met David to personally deliver the tickets – but only provided two of the promised six.
In the course of pursuing the tickets, David realised that mutual friends were also facing the same predicament.
Weeks before the match, David said Mr Hafidz created a WhatsApp group with those who were still owed the tickets. In messages seen by CNA, Mr Hafidz said he was “struggling” with his employment at Schooling’s swim school and health issues like kidney stones and giddy spells.
“I am the only person running the swim school and I am leaving by this week,” Mr Hafidz said.
“There is no intention to delay or not to produce the tickets but give me by end of tomorrow for me to clear all the mess.”
On the night before the game, David said Mr Hafidz arranged for a courier to deliver the tickets. Then at about 3.30pm on match day, he left the WhatsApp group. The courier never came, David said.
Since the incident, Mr Hafidz’s Facebook page has been inundated by comments from others asking about their tickets.
“Left WhatsApp group, blocked on WhatsApp, uncontactable with our money and tickets in his pockets. Anyone else face this problem with him,” said one Zulhikam Zullkefle, who also filed a police report.
Another user Aizad Mohtar commented that Mr Hafidz had “switched off his HP before we could collect from him today”.
David said he has considered dropping by Mr Hafidz’s home, but added that he understood only his ex-wife lived there.
“I doubt that I’ll be able to get back the cash; I’ll treat it as a lesson learnt. Hopefully others who actually lost a lot to him can get it back,” he stated.
CNA has contacted Mr Hafidz for comment.
The Schooling family appointed Mr Hafidz in September 2016, a month after Joseph won Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100m butterfly, to act on their behalf concerning media and commercial enquiries.
The Schooling family said in a statement that Mr Hafidz “assisted us in 2016 with media queries after Joseph’s win at the Rio Olympics”.
“With regards to his role with Swim Schooling, it was a part-time role and he was terminated as of July 2019. A police report has been made and we can’t comment further,” the statement said.