Football: Interest of Singapore football 'must come first', says MCCY's Grace Fu

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the spexScholarship Awards Ceremony on March 17, 2017.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the spexScholarship Awards Ceremony on March 17, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

MCCY Minister Grace Fu weighs in on FAS' election dogfight as war of words breaks out

Even as battle lines are drawn before an impending landmark election for the sport, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Grace Fu has called for unity within the football fraternity.

She urged for differences to be put aside in working for the good of a sport loved by the nation, but which now finds itself in the doldrums.

"I'm glad to see that there's some progress made," Ms Fu said yesterday. "We look forward to the fraternity coming together and uniting for the betterment of football in Singapore."

Ms Fu, who was at Sentosa attending a GetActive! Singapore event, was making her first comments about the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election, a day after the association had set the April 29 date for its first-ever polls.

Less than a fortnight ago in Parliament, MCCY Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng had urged the FAS to hold its election soon. The association has been run by a provisional council since November, after the term of the last council expired.

Ms Fu was also asked about her thoughts regarding some feisty remarks made by the opposing sides.

She said: "I just urge the sports associations - whether football or other (sports) - to really put the interest of the sport at the foremost of their considerations."

FOCUS ON THE BIGGER PICTURE

I just urge the sports associations - whether football or other (sports) - to really put the interest of the sport at the foremost of their considerations.

GRACE FU, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth wants both sides to put football at the front of their agendas.

Leaders from both camps have crossed swords within a day of the election announcement.

On one side, president of the FAS interim council Lim Kia Tong questioned the record of his opponent Bill Ng, chairman of S-League club Hougang United.

Lim cast doubt on the record of someone whose team's best finish came last season when they placed sixth out of nine teams. He had said: "Talk is cheap. Realising the talk is very expensive. Each and every (candidate) must have integrity and must not come here for ulterior purposes."

Hitting back, Ng said his nine-member slate - which includes Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Annabel Pennefather and Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra - has "a track record of reform, of turning things around with the right focus" and that their "passion for the game isn't limited to words".

Ng declined to comment yesterday when approached by The Straits Times while Lim could not be reached for comment.

Ms Fu added: "We are here to try to get sports adopted by as many people as possible, and we're here to encourage the standards and raise the standards of the sport. So I think the interests of the sport must come first."

She also outlined what she hopes the new team will do for "the very popular sport", which is to "apply their minds to improving the standards, getting more people interested and getting more to participate actively in football".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Football 'must come first''. Print Edition | Subscribe