FAS constitution to shape new era

Singapore, who is led by coach V. Sundramoorthy (left) and captain Shahril Ishak, will contest the AFF Suzuki Cup for the South-east Asian title in November. Today's AGM vote will allow the local football fraternity to finally elect its own set of le
Singapore, who is led by coach V. Sundramoorthy (left) and captain Shahril Ishak, will contest the AFF Suzuki Cup for the South-east Asian title in November. Today's AGM vote will allow the local football fraternity to finally elect its own set of leaders after decades of government appointments.ST FILE PHOTO

Today's crucial vote on revised manifesto will be a deciding factor for governance of game

Ever since the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Aug 25 that it would host its annual general meeting (AGM) today, where a revised constitution is up for approval, the local game has been abuzz.

The revision will pave the way for the football fraternity to finally elect its own set of leaders after decades of government appointments.

At the heart of the matter is the governing body's revised constitution, which its 46 members - made up of seven S-League, 10 National Football League (NFL), 14 Islandwide League (IWL), and 15 recreation clubs and varsity teams - will vote to pass this afternoon at Jalan Besar Stadium. So far, 38 members have indicated that they will attend the meeting.

Officials from world governing body Fifa and national sports agency Sport Singapore will be in attendance as observers.

Former national defender R. Sasikumar, now the managing director of sports marketing agency Red Card Group, believes the AGM will not be a quiet affair, saying: "No one will sit down and accept everything. People have been waiting for a long time to have their say."

Among the key constitutional changes are the need for the presidential candidate to run as part of a team of nine, comprising a deputy president, four vice-presidents and three council members. It is compulsory for a woman to be part of the team of nine.

The Straits Times understands that the elected council will serve a four-year term instead of the current two years.

Individual candidates can contest the remaining six council member positions, bringing the FAS council size to 15, down from the current 26.

Candidates running for the presidency are also required to have played an active role in the sport for at least two of the past five years. They will also need to pass an integrity check.

For the other office holders, the requirement is widened to include having played an active role in the management of sports.

For the first time, it is also mandatory that the council have at least one female member.

A simple majority is needed for a win. In the event of a tied vote, it will be taken that members have voted to reject the revisions. If the proposals are rejected, the matter will be referred to Fifa for clarification.

One man likely to oppose the changes is former Woodlands Wellington general manager R. Vengadasalam, who is campaigning on behalf of a team of candidates. He has proposed at least 40 changes to the constitution.

One change he wants to push for is to bar inactive clubs, such as Gombak United and Tanjong Pagar United (former S-League) and Singapore Recreation Club (ex-NFL) from voting.

A key factor will be the voice of the lower-rung teams in the NFL and IWL. Many of them believe they have been neglected by the FAS and blame it for issues like poor organisation of tournaments and pitch allocation.

The election could be a four-cornered fight. FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong, who oversaw the revision of the constitution, is likely to lead a team of current council members that includes fellow vice-president Bernard Tan and Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson.

Former referee Francis Lee, Woodlands fan James Lim, football management consultant Ronnie Lee and lawyer Alfred Dodwell are in Venga's corner.

Suresh Nair, a former journalist, is believed to also be assembling a team to contest in the elections.

Hougang United chairman Bill Ng is still considering a run and a number of ex-national captains could be on his slate. Former Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng had earlier told this newspaper that if Ng has a sound manifesto, he would consider throwing his name into the hat.

Tong Hai hopes that gutter politics stays out of the contest. He said: "It's time we leave politics aside and look at the men who keep Singapore's football interests at heart.

"Football must take priority and everyone must work as a team to properly review the changes in order to ensure progress."

•Additional reporting by Yogaraj Panditurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'FAS constitution to shape new era'. Print Edition | Subscribe