Football: New FAS council will work hard 'to heal Singapore football'

Mr Lim Kia Tong, the new FAS president, meeting reporters after the election at the Sports Hub's Black Box Auditorium yesterday.
Mr Lim Kia Tong, the new FAS president, meeting reporters after the election at the Sports Hub's Black Box Auditorium yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Team LKT wins 30 of 44 votes, sets itself 30-day deadline to start task forces in various areas

They might have won a four-year term, but the newly elected council of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) wasted no time in getting down to work after yesterday's election by heading to a cafe to conduct their first meeting.

After all, the mandate to govern local football comes with a big caveat - whether the council members can heal a sport that has seen poor results by the national teams and the S-League struggling with crowd attendances.

Soon after Mr Lim Kia Tong and his team garnered 30 of the 44 votes (with one invalid vote) over Mr Bill Ng's Game Changers, a reminder of the monumental task at hand came from the top.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in a Facebook post: "There are pressing issues for the FAS leadership team to address, including the development of local football and the future of the S-League.

"It is critical that the new FAS leadership prioritise the review of its internal governance structures and processes, to implement a more robust system going forward."

  • FAS team

    President: Lim Kia Tong

    Deputy president: Bernard Tan

    Vice-presidents: Teo Hock Seng, Edwin Tong, S. Thavaneson, Razali Saad

    Council members: Dinesh Nair, Forrest Li, Darwin Jalil, Lim Tong Hai, Rizal Rasudin, Yakob Hashim, Michael Foo, Sharda Parvin, Kelvin Teo

Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive officer of national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG), chimed in by warning that "the FAS must maintain a high standard of regulatory compliance".

He added: "Future public funding support will very much depend on this, and the confidence in the FAS' strategies, plans and actions to develop football in Singapore and our national teams."

In January, SportSG decided that the FAS would no longer have direct access to the Tote Board's funding, believed to be about $25 million annually. Like it does with other national sports associations, SportSG now disburses funds to the FAS depending on certain targets being hit.

In his post-election press conference, Mr Lim Kia Tong acknowledged the calls for greater transparency and accountability in the FAS, following the recent police raids on the FAS' offices and clubhouses of three clubs - Hougang United, Tiong Bahru FC and Woodlands Wellington .

 
 
 

The Commercial Affairs Department is investigating the possible misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru and an attempt by an official to obstruct an audit of S-League clubs that are sitting out the league.

There was also the issue of Tiong Bahru's $500,000 donation to the Asean Football Federation, which led to a spat between Mr Ng and the FAS over who and what the money was for and who requested it.

Said Mr Lim: "The real work starts now and my team and I promise that we will work tirelessly to heal Singapore football and bring back the glory days."

He promised that sweeping changes would be made, but only after consultation with all stakeholders.

While Mr Lim did not give details about the changes, deputy president Bernard Tan said the new council had set itself a 30-day deadline to set up task forces in the areas of governance, commercialisation, facilities, competitions, development, women's football and the national teams.

They might seem like a team in a hurry, but then, perhaps they need to be that as they now have a mandate to turn things around .

Mr Mohammad Rafique, chairman of Siglap CSC, which is one of the 44 affiliates, said: "We cannot expect any changes overnight, but for sure after three months, we want to see some positive developments."

Previous FAS office bearers were appointed by the Government until this practice was found to contravene Fifa's regulations in 2015.

World football's governing body frowns upon third-party influence in a country's football association.

The FAS' Constitution was amended in consultation with Fifa and was finally approved last November at an extraordinary general meeting, leading to yesterday's election.

FAS ELECTIONS

Videos, photos and stories on election day. http://str.sg/47gN

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 30, 2017, with the headline 'New FAS council will work hard 'to heal S'pore football''. Print Edition | Subscribe