Football: I've not changed mind about stepping down from FAS presidency, says Zainudin

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin speaks during a post-Annual General Meeting press conference at Japan Besar Stadium on Dec 29, 2015.
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin speaks during a post-Annual General Meeting press conference at Japan Besar Stadium on Dec 29, 2015.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin has dropped his biggest hint yet that he is stepping down from the post and will not seek a fourth two-year term.

At a press conference following the FAS' annual general meeting on Tuesday night at its Jalan Besar headquarters, the 52-year-old told the media: "More than a year ago, I was ready to step down. Since then, I have never changed my view. My view is that there needs to be revitalisation of the FAS succession plan...

"Now with the elections, things are open. I have to say in all openness, my position has not changed.

"You need to always have changes for the future. There may be new candidates... (we) need to ensure that transition occurs as smooth as possible."

The open elections are likely to be held by June.

Zainudin, a former Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP, was appointed in 2009. His four vice-presidents are Tan Soo Nan, Lim Kia Tong, Bernard Tan and Edwin Tong, who is an MP for Marine Parade GRC. The current FAS council was appointed on Oct 1, 2013.

In 2013, Zainudin told The Straits Times that he planned to step down as FAS supremo this year.

Since 2004, the FAS president has been succeeded by a vice-president from the association starting with Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee taking over from Mah Bow Tan. Five years later, Zainudin took over the mantle from Assoc Prof Ho.

However, the FAS is in the midst of revising its constitution, to bring it in line with world governing body Fifa's statutes. Fifa requires member associations "to... ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties" such as governments or sponsors.

But the FAS' constitution 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) - including the president - and shall, unless otherwise decided by the Minister, hold office for a period of two years".

The Straits Times understands that the FAS has met Fifa twice since, with a third meeting scheduled next month. The topics discussed have included what constitutes a candidate's suitability to stand for office.

Fifa takes a serious view of government interference in football-related issues. In May, it suspended the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) for the "effective takeover of the activities of PSSI by the Indonesian authorities".

Meanwhile, the FAS will launch a new five-year strategic plan, one with a focus on enhancing the youth development structure at its heart, by next March, said Zainudin.

The focus on youth, he said, is part of a long-term outlook adopted by the FAS, one which will ultimately benefit the national team.

He said: "From what I've read, everybody agreed that the future of Singapore is in the youth development."

He also confirmed that the Asean Super League (ASL), a regional club tournament originally pencilled for a 2015 start date, will kick off in 2017. The FAS chief described the ASL as a stepping stone for players in South-east Asia, before they make the jump to the bigger leagues in Europe, Japan and South Korea.