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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Ronaldinho academy won't open in Singapore after company shuts down

Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandran and Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho with Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra, who says the club has cut ties with the Brazil legend.

A Singapore junior academy, led by former Brazil star Ronaldinho, has closed down without conducting any training sessions.

It was the subject of a media frenzy and lavish launch in December 2015, with Ronaldinho flying into the island nation. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed to partner S.League club Tampines Rovers.

But International Football Group (IFG), who were supposed to set up the academy, ended operations in January after staff complained that their wages were not being paid.

Tampines Rovers have also distanced themselves from the project, revealing they had cut ties with IFG in 2016.

"Over a year ago we decided not to proceed with the...academy plans as we could not agree on the commitments from Ronaldinho," Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra told Today.

"We also had feedback from community leaders that there were too many elitist programmes out there, and that it would make accessibility to football training limited to only certain sectors which are already well-served.

"We have since replaced the academy with our Tampines Gold CSR programme that involves kids at risk.

"We haven't done anything with Ronaldinho and IFG since 12 months ago so we have had no contact with IFG."

A former IFG employee, who declined to be named, told Today that he was taking legal action against the company.

"We've tried going to the MOM [Ministry of Manpower] for help, but because our salaries are above a certain range, they are unable to assist us in this matter," the ex-employee said.

"So for now, it looks like our only recourse might be to take joint-legal action against the directors."

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