Football: FAS to elect president within 12 months; Bernard Tan confirmed as acting leader

Acting FAS President Bernard Tan speaks during the association's annual congress at Raffles Town Club on Sept 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will elect a new president before October 2023, the governing body announced during its annual congress at the Raffles Town Club on Friday night.

It was the first to be held physically since 2019, and took place nine days after its president Lim Kia Tong died suddenly on Sept 14 after suffering a heart attack. His seat at the panel was left vacant on Friday as a mark of respect.

Highlighting that its constitution stated that the election process - including a call for election, as well as candidature nominations and examinations - required about a month, FAS general secretary Yazeen Buhari noted that the insufficient window meant an election could not be held this year.

As a result, he added, FAS deputy president Bernard Tan would take on the role of acting president.

A fresh election will be conducted no later than Sept 30, 2023, either at the next FAS congress or at an Extraordinary Congress.

Yazeen added that the matter has been discussed with global body Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation.

He later explained that an Extraordinary Congress will take place only if called by the FAS executive committee – comprising the acting president and its four vice-presidents – or if requested by at least one third of its 40 associates.

He also said that the election would be only for the position of president, and that elections for the entire council – scheduled for 2025 – were not possible according to its constitution.

Tan said that he was still “processing the shock”, and asked for time before discussing in greater detail his vision for the FAS going forward.

He noted: “This is not new to me. I’ve been in FAS for 10 years and on Kia Tong’s council for six so I’m familiar with what’s happening going forward.

“But honestly if you ask me for concrete plans or ideas... I will not have any answers right now. Perhaps in a month’s time.”

He later added: “The whole community is processing it. This is not a position I had anticipated to be in, neither did the entire community. We were looking forward to Kia Tong completing the term, he would have been 72 but you could see his energy was still there.

“The last time I saw him, he was crowning the Singapore Football League champions at the Jalan Besar Stadium and he was still in top form. So frankly speaking, none of us are ready for this.”

Tributes to Lim were delivered in the first 30 minutes of the congress, with a minute's silence observed and with many guests donning a lapel pin with his initials.

Sobs were audible as a video featuring FAS staff was played, and administrators of local clubs also delivered speeches remembering the ex-lawyer, who died aged 70 having spent 30 years serving Singapore football.

His final year as FAS chief saw several highlights. Among them was the return of amateur competitions, progress made in the women's game with the rebranded Deloitte Women's Premier League, as well as the recruitment of technical director Michael Browne.

Other initiatives include the national Unleash The Roar! plan to reach the 2034 World Cup, the School Football Academy programme, the imminent opening of the Kallang Football Hub at the end of 2022, and "substantial steps" in introducing video assistant referee technology in local football.

The FAS on Friday also announced plans to allocate a portion of their budget for age-group international tournaments like the Lion City Cup and Merlion Cup - last held in 2015 and 2019 respectively - scheduled to return in 2023.

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