An Asean Football Federation (AFF) council member has disclosed that it was former Singapore football chief Zainudin Nordin who secured a $500,000 donation for the federation's project called the Football Management System.
Mariano Nonong Araneta, the president of the Philippine Football Federation, told The Straits Times yesterday that the regional body had met in Pahang, Malaysia, two years ago and the green light for the project was given.
The FMS is a portal which enables AFF member associations and clubs to download contract templates and log into player databases, among other things.
"At that council meeting in Pahang, Malaysia, in 2015, it was decided that the AFF needs the Football Management System," said Araneta, who was in Singapore over the weekend for an AFF meeting.
"We discussed and agreed that the system would benefit all AFF member associations and clubs but the system costs more than $1 million. Mr Zainudin (Nordin) told the council that he was able to get a sponsor to help pay part of the cost."
Zainudin was then the president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS). He stepped down from the post last November.
The Kuala Lumpur-based AFF, which was founded in 1984 and has 12 member nations, still lists him as a council member on its website.
Araneta, 63, could not recall the name of the vendor but added that there were three bidders in the tender - one each from the Philippines, Singapore and Germany.
The Straits Times understands that the winning bid came from a company called Tribal Worldwide, which has enterprise portal expertise and has an office in Singapore.
Its website lists work it has done including for Singapore's Ministry of Communications and Information, POSB and the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Araneta added: "This Football Management System is needed to improve the efficiency of the various associations.
"It is really beneficial as it will have templates of marketing contracts, human resource development modules as well as administration and finance functions."
Among the other functions of the FMS are income generation, information technology, corporate governance and facilities utilisation.
The AFF council met in Singapore over the weekend, although the $500,000 donation was not discussed, according to Araneta.
He said: "I don't know why it (the Football Management System) is such a big problem in Singapore.
"It is a noble project and we are thankful to Mr Zai for getting a sponsor."
However, he denied that the AFF meeting had been called because of the recent controversy over the $500,000 donation.
He said the strategic planing meeting had been held in Singapore "because of the election, (as) Mr Lee (FAS general secretary Winston Lee) is busy with his work with the FAS and is unable to travel. That is why it was agreed months in advance that this AFF council meeting would be held in Singapore for his convenience".
Araneta's account differs from that of Hougang United and Tiong Bahru FC chairman Bill Ng, who insisted that he had made the $500,000 donation to the FAS for the benefit of local football, and that it was FAS general secretary Lee who had requested the donation, which ended up with the AFF.
Ng, who is leading a slate of nine called the Game Changers and is gunning for the post of FAS president in the association's election this Saturday, made the claim at the unveiling of his team's manifesto on April 13.
The 57-year-old corporate rescue specialist is up against lawyer and former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong, 64, who heads a team called Team LKT.
Ng's claims led to a spat between him and Lee over who and what the donation was for, and who had asked for it.
Lee hit back by releasing documents that showed it was ex-FAS chief Zainudin who had requested the donation to the AFF.
The revelation about the donation from Tiong Bahru FC cast the spotlight on the National Football League side and its finances, following reports that the amateur club had revenue of $36.8 million.
National sports governing body Sport Singapore made a police report on Wednesday about a possible misuse of funds at the club and attempts to delay and/or obstruct an audit into clubs.
The Commercial Affairs Department subsequently raided the FAS office and the three football clubs connected with Ng - Hougang United, Tiong Bahru FC and Woodlands Wellington FC.
Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, Zainudin and Lee were called up for questioning by the CAD.