Football: Edwin Tong steps down as FAS vice-president after cabinet appointment

Edwin Tong will be sworn in as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong on July 27. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Newly appointed Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong has stepped down from his role as vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), the national football body announced on Sunday (July 26) night.

In a media statement, an FAS spokesman said that Tong had given notice of his resignation from the FAS council and that the move was made "in connection with his new appointment".

Tong, who is currently Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, will be sworn in on Monday and will also be the Second Minister for Law.

In its statement, the FAS described Tong as an "integral member" of the six-man FAS exco and an "exemplary ambassador in the promotion of football in Singapore".

Said its spokesman: "Together with (FAS president) Lim Kia Tong, he initiated the rebranding and revamp of the local professional league from the S-League to the Singapore Premier League (SPL) in 2018, including establishing the four pillars that the SPL is based on - as a premium platform for aspiring footballers, professionalism, sustainability and a vibrant football culture.

"On top of that, he also headed the digital push for the newly-minted SPL, calling for free live streaming of matches to be available to further enhance engagements with local fans and communities."

Tong, 50, was appointed FAS vice-president in September 2013, and was re-elected in the same role in 2017. His current term was due to end in 2021.

The FAS will only be required to elect a replacement at its next congress - as per its constitution - which is slated to be held before the year is up.

Its other vice-presidents are S. Thavaneson, Teo Hock Seng and Razali Saad. President Lim and deputy president Bernard Tan complete the FAS exco.

Said Lim: "Having worked with Edwin since 2013, he was a valuable member of the team and we could always count on him for advice and insightful perspectives.

"We will lose an integral part of the team, but we are aware that he has a higher calling to answer to for the betterment of our nation.

"On behalf of all the FAS council members and staff, I would like to place on record our utmost thanks and sincere gratitude to Edwin for all his contributions to the organisation over the past eight years.

"We wish him all the best as he embarks on the next chapter of his public service career... and we are extremely confident that he will acquit himself with unparalleled distinction."

In addition to being FAS vice-president, Tong had also been chairman of the FAS legal committee since 2017.

In August 2019, Tong revealed to The Straits Times that the FAS had set a goal for the national team to play in the 2034 World Cup - a goal he said was "realistic".

The declaration sparked mixed reactions from the local fraternity.

Some, including former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, threw their support behind the idea and applauded the high aim.

Others felt the target was too lofty, and called it a repeat of the failed Goal 2010 dream, announced in 1998 with the target of sending the Lions to football's biggest stage in 2010.

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