Football: Landmark election looms

FAS constitution to be amended and council members elected, in line with Fifa guidelines

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is set to choose its leaders for the first time in over 30 years.

It set the process in motion yesterday by naming Sept 24 as the date of its annual general meeting (AGM), when it will seek to amend its constitution to allow for a full election of its council members.

Currently, the members are appointed by the Government under 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) - including the president - and shall, unless otherwise decided by the Minister, hold office for a period of two years".

This is in breach of Fifa's regulations. The world football governing body frowns upon government interference in football associations, something which has seen Indonesia, Kuwait and Benin being suspended in recent years.

To that end, the FAS constitution is being amended and affiliates' and members' approval of the constitutional amendments will be sought at the AGM.

The date of the election of council members is also likely to be revealed at the AGM.

GIVING FOOTBALL A NEW VOICE

Having an open election means two or three teams can present their ideas strongly and voice out their opinions on how to bring local football forward. For the last decade, football has been in a stagnant position and that must change. It is time people put aside their own self-interest to come forward and support a cause they are truly passionate about.

R. VENGADASALAM, former Woodlands Wellington manager, on his intention to assemble a team for the FAS election.

For more than a year, the FAS has been saying it will hold a full and open election of its council members, including the president, after amending its constitution. Accordingly, yesterday's announcement was greeted with relief by members of the football fraternity.

Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra said: "This move is well embraced by all quarters of local football and removes a lot of uncertainty going forward.

"There was much confusion over the past few months but I'm sure everyone is glad there is finally something concrete now."

After months of consultation with various key stakeholders in local football as well as Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the FAS constitution task force led by FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong presented the proposed changes to the constitution to the FAS Council at a closed-door meeting last Friday.

These changes will require Fifa's input and approval. A Fifa spokesman confirmed that it has been working closely with the FAS on the amendments to the constitution.

"At the end of the process, elections of the FAS Council are to be held based on a new set of FAS statutes that are in line with Fifa requirements," he said.

Lim, who is also the deputy chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee and chairman of AFC disciplinary & ethics committee, said: "The amendments which are connected with and related to the election of members of the Council have been eagerly awaited by the fraternity as a whole.

"We felt that it was necessary to take the time to engage the key stakeholders involved as this marks a new chapter in our footballing scene, and we wanted to ensure that we considered the various elements recommended by Fifa, and solicit feedback and consultation."

Once the election date is announced, those who wish to contest the election will have one month from the date of the announcement to submit their applications, pass a background check and embark on campaign efforts.

Former Woodlands Wellington manager R. Vengadasalam, who has assembled a team of five to contest the election and is their campaign manager, said: "Having an open election means two or three teams can present their ideas strongly and voice their opinions on how to bring local football forward.

"For the last decade, football has been in a stagnant position and that must change. It is time people put aside their own self-interest to come forward and support a cause they are truly passionate about.

"This election will allow for more representation across the island and the community will be more encouraged to state their concerns or displeasure to whoever is elected."

The FAS expects to receive from Fifa the final ratification in the next two weeks, following which it will meet its members and affiliates prior to the AGM and elaborate on the proposed changes, among others.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2016, with the headline 'Landmark election looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe