Football: FAS keeps potential president waiting

Potential candidates to head the new Football Association of Singapore council include the current FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong and former Woodlands Wellington general manager R. Vengadasalam. With two months to go to the end of the current office
Potential candidates to head the new Football Association of Singapore council include the current FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong and former Woodlands Wellington general manager R. Vengadasalam. With two months to go to the end of the current office-bearers' terms, no date has been set for the elections to vote in the new council. ST, TNP FILE PHOTOS

Elections loom but no decision on date, even as fresh criteria announced for candidates

For more than a year, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has been saying it will hold a full and open election of its council members, including the president, after amending its constitution.

Yet, with just over two months to go before Sept 30, when the current office-bearers' terms expire, there is still no indication when the election will be held.

Yesterday, the FAS did not answer The Straits Times' queries on when the amendments will be finalised, but said there would be "no shortage of lead time" for potential candidates.

Explaining the delay, it said: "As this is the first time in the history of the FAS that an election of the council members will be conducted, naturally... the processes take a little more time than anticipated."

The FAS did not explain what will happen to the office-bearers after Sept 30 when their term expires, but ST understands it will be extended until an election date is firmed up.

  • PROPOSED CHANGES FOR FAS ELECTIONS

  • 1 Candidate running for president to have experience in international sports federations.

    2 Council posts to be contested as a team.

It said the changes, once finalised, will be put up before its council for approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM), which can be called at any time.

The statement added: "The elections will be held some time after the EOGM and we will notify the relevant parties accordingly."

R. Vengadasalam, who has assembled a team of five to contest the elections, asked the FAS for clarity on the situation, and for at least two months to campaign for support.

"I've written twice to Winston (Lee, FAS general secretary), telling them to give us ample time. My team is meeting every week... but it's important for everyone to know what the changes are," said the former Woodlands Wellington general manager.

Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra said changing the constitution is a complex process and the amendments have to be robust, but he is open to finding out the plans of the new council.

The corporate lawyer said: "I am eager to hear out the vision of the new leadership as there are several things that need to be clarified, such as privatisation of the league, status of the Asean Super League and whether the new leadership will support it and finally, what are the plans beyond S-League that will ensure football fans are won back."

Adding to the confusion are the rumoured changes to the constitution. After the FAS' annual general meeting last year, vice-president Lim Kia Tong said candidates will be subjected to integrity checks.

ST understands one new criteria could be for the presidential candidate to have experience working in an international sports federation.

This trims the list of potential candidates to only a handful of local sports officials who fit the bill.

Lim himself is one of them, having served as deputy chairman of Fifa's disciplinary committee since May 2013. He was part of the panel that banned and fined Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan was found guilty of biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.

Another change could be the introduction of a group system, in which an entire bloc of candidates will be voted in, as opposed to each position contested individually.

This is different from some local national sports associations. For instance, at last month's Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) election, SSA president Lee Kok Choy's team stood for all positions but lost two - vice-president (water polo) and assistant secretary-general (water polo).

The FAS called for an election after Fifa highlighted Article 19.3 of the FAS constitution, which states that "all council members shall be appointed by the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (now called the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth)" last July.

This goes against a Fifa directive which forbids third-party influence in a country's football association.

Fifa has since been working with FAS over the amendments but to date, there has been no resolution.

Venga said: "I think the need to have international experience is unfair. This is local football. The rules must be fair.

"In any case we need to know the criteria soon. It is important for everyone standing, not just us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'FAS keeps potential president waiting'. Print Edition | Subscribe