Why It Matters

Time for FAS to be more transparent

Football is not regarded as the national sport here for nothing.

Singapore may not be the best at it, not even in Asean. But it is the only sport that can attract tens of thousands to the stadium. Win or lose, fans are always ready to offer their two cents.

Table tennis, sailing and swimming may be the ones that regularly win international honours. Yet when it comes to government funding, football sits alongside these significantly more successful sports.

No one is begrudging football its elevated status. But with great power comes great responsibility.

That is why the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) handling of the SEA Games fiasco - and non-disclosure of what exactly went wrong in the failed campaign - leaves much to be desired.

The issue goes much deeper than the Young Lions' preliminary round exit. Poor performance and questionable tactics are not uncommon. But add the public spat between the SEA Games coach and the national team's head coach, and suggestions of meddling and a breakdown in communication in the national team, and they all hint at deep-set issues.

In a sport where teamwork is so integral, it boggles the mind that the lack of it among top coaches was allowed to continue until they could no longer work together. One has to ask where FAS' senior management was and why nothing was done to steady the rocking ship before the SEA Games.

The fiasco comes at a time of uncertainty over the S-League's future - talk is that the only professional league will be made a semi-pro one.

Players are unsettled, wondering if they will be out of jobs overnight. It is not such a foreign thought given that the league closed down one club and implemented an age restriction on players at the end of last season, only to reverse the controversial ruling. But by then, jobs were lost.

It is time that FAS be more transparent. Football is the No. 1 sport here and it is the least FAS can do when there is so little to cheer about in the local game.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2015, with the headline 'Make football transparent'. Print Edition | Subscribe