Football: FAS clears path for polls

FAS president Zainudin Nordin (centre) flanked by his vice presidents Lim Kia Tong (left) and Edwin Tong on Dec 29, 2015.
FAS president Zainudin Nordin (centre) flanked by his vice presidents Lim Kia Tong (left) and Edwin Tong on Dec 29, 2015. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Fifa okays charter changes; teams of nine will contest, six other posts open to individuals

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) inches closer to a new chapter in its 124-year history when Fifa approved its constitution amendments on Wednesday.

The new constitution, subject to approval by its 46 members at next Saturday's annual general meeting (AGM), will see the FAS hold its first-ever election of office bearers.

Among the key changes are the need for the presidential candidate to run as part of a team of nine, comprising a deputy president, four vice-presidents and three council members.

Individual candidates can contest the remaining six council member positions, bringing the FAS council size to 15, down from the current 26.

For the first time, it is also mandated that the council must have at least one female member.

FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong said requiring the president to run as part of a team will give the leadership "stability in the management of football".

Lim, who is also deputy chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee, added: "A clear majority of a decision is needed. It will give a united slate which will carry through the decision."

  • 9

    The size of a team a presidential candidate has to run as part of – the others being a deputy president, four vice-presidents and three council members.

Candidates running for the FAS presidency are also required to have played an active role in association football in at least two of the past five years.

For the other office holders, the requirement is widened to include one having played an active role in the management of sports.

This, according to Lim, is in line with Fifa's and the Asian Football Confederation's statutes. It also paves the way for affiliates to sit on the council.

Lim, a lawyer, is confident that there will be no further delays to the process. The FAS had earlier said it hoped to hold the elections before the end of the year.

He said: "So far when we spoke to the clubs when we met them, the sentiments are that they accept the slate concept."

A Fifa representative, Luca Nicola, will be also be present at the AGM.

Candidates will be subjected to an integrity check, to be carried out by a three-man electoral committee. Lim said: "We have spoken to (local sports governing body) Sport Singapore to rope in the police to do the screening, particularly in the areas of corruption."

FAS members that The Straits Times spoke to are glad that the amendments have finally been approved by Fifa and are looking forward to what will be a watershed moment in Singapore football.

Eunos Crescent Football Club's team manager Darwin Jalil, 32, said: "Many people have said that they can do a better job, so now is their chance to step forward and do it.

"We need people of various capabilities, like sports science, lawyers and accountants to contribute to Singapore football."

Yakob Hashim, 56, coach of Yishun Sentek Mariners, said: "This is finally the time that (affiliates) can be more recognised. I'd say that those who are sincere and who can help to change Singapore football for the better should give it a try."

The constitutional changes were requested by Fifa, which felt that Article 19.3 of the current FAS constitution goes against its zero-tolerance policy towards government intervention in football associations.

Article 19.3 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".

A total of four teams, including the incumbents, are rumoured to be interested in contesting the elections.

The other teams comprise one led by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng, another fronted by former Woodlands Wellington general manager R. Vengadasalam and a third team boasting a former Lions captain, coaches and administrators.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Fas clears path for polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe