No time to quibble over football

Football Association of Singapore vice-president Bernard Tan host a media roundtable to discuss the upcoming the Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM) on Nov 7.
Football Association of Singapore vice-president Bernard Tan host a media roundtable to discuss the upcoming the Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM) on Nov 7. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Onus on affiliates to pass new constitution as good governance paramount, says SportSG

National sports agency SportSG met the affiliates from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) yesterday morning to discuss the association's upcoming Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM).

The EOGM is slated to be held on Nov 7 with the agenda to pass the revised constitution through a vote. The FAS will then call for an inaugural election for its office holders after the new constitution is passed.

FAS council members had previously been appointed by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. But this was in breach of Fifa's regulations, which frown upon government interference in football associations.

Of the FAS' 46 affiliates, 39 from the National Football League (NFL) and Islandwide League (IWL) clubs, who form the bulk of the votes, were invited to meet SportSG officials for a discussion on the EOGM issues.

According to a SportSG spokesman, the meeting, attended by 15 affiliates, was "a fruitful session".

The agency called for a meeting with the FAS affiliates to hear their views and concerns ahead of the EOGM.

TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

This period is crucial in forming the new FAS... If we continue this phase of no-decision, then the FAS will be in limbo. A lot of its capacity will be invested to manage this limbo and attention will be drawn away from the tasks on the field.

A SPORTSG SPOKESMAN, on the need for the FAS to move on and pass the revised constitution.

The spokesman said: "We think there is a danger they (the affiliates) will get the two components mixed up, maybe they will not give enough thought to the process.

"If there is a repeat of what happened (at the first AGM on Sept 24, which ended abruptly with members disagreeing) with no new constitution being passed, it will not do Singapore football any good."

The lower-tiered NFL and IWL clubs earlier voiced concerns that they have been neglected as the vast majority of the association's $35.8 million budget last year was spent on staff salaries, the now-defunct LionsXII and the S-League.

According to the FAS' statement of accounts, only $70,000 was devoted to grassroots football, a figure which the association later clarified as $250,000.

The agency also hoped the lead-up to the EOGM and the elections will be smooth and peaceful. The spokesman said: "This is one particular sport where we cannot allow the NSA to quibble and be dysfunctional. We don't want the FAS to become one of those.

"We think it is a very reasonable constitution. We want to hear (the affiliates') views. The 46 affiliates have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. If they are not conscious of their responsibility, it will not do justice to the new process (of revising the constitution and conducting the elections) and we all know the special place that football has in our country.

"This period is crucial in forming the new FAS. Also, the (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup is at our doorstep and then there's SEA Games 2017. If we continue this phase of no-decision, then the FAS will be in limbo. A lot of its capacity will be invested to manage this limbo and attention will be drawn away from the tasks on the field."

The current FAS council's term will end on Nov 15. Should the constitution not be passed at the EOGM, SportSG is likely to extend the current members' tenures.

Once the amended constitution is passed, the agency will appoint an interim FAS council whose sole objective will be to guide the association through to the elections.

But the new elected FAS council will still need to present its plans to SportSG and the agency has not ruled out cutting funding if the plans are not up to scratch.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'No time to quibble over football'. Print Edition | Subscribe