FAS passes Fifa test
FAS VP Lim says no contravention of rules regarding government interference in football matters
Brunei fell foul of it in the past, and now Indonesia are paying the price, for failing to prevent government intervention in their football affairs.
The statutes of world football governing body Fifa 13.1.(i) state that member associations are obliged to "manage their own affairs and ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties," under the threat of sanctions and suspension for violations.
And with two South-east Asian nations having the book thrown at them in the last six years, questions are being raised over the Football Association of Singapore (FAS)'s situation.
Last updated in 2011, article 19.3 of the FAS constitution states that "all council members shall be appointed by the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (the former name of the current Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)) - including the president - "and shall, unless otherwise decided by the Minister, hold office for a period of two years".
Incumbent FAS president Zainudin Nordin, who is a member of parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, has held the role for three consecutive two-year terms since 2009.
Lim Kia Tong, FAS vice-president and deputy chairman of Fifa's disciplinary committee, believes that the Singapore situation is distinctly different.
"There are areas in the FAS constitution that may lead to questions about government intervention, but I don't think the FAS contravenes Fifa statutes," Lim, a lawyer and also president of the AFC disciplinary committee, told The New Paper.
"Like, for instance, the provision which says that all council members are appointed by the minister.
"However, it must be noted that there is a constitutional requirement for the appointment to be confirmed by an absolute majority at the Annual General Meeting.
"Furthermore, the people appointed come from different walks of life and some are from clubs who are ordinary or associate members. Most of them are not from the government," he added.
Fifa's decision to suspend the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) on May 30, after government interference in the national league, made Indonesia the second country from the region to suffer that fate in the last six years.
This, after Brunei spent some 20 months in the football wilderness after the Brunei authorities dissolved the sultanate's football association of in December 2008.
Lim has been involved in Singapore football for decades, and sits on the FAS executive council as vice-president, and he asserts he has seen no instance of intervention that would raise alarm bells.
"I've been involved in Singapore football for 20 over years but on no occasion did I notice any interference by the government. I'm in the exco and my thinking and mindset are my own - I'm not influenced," he said.
"When the minister is present for football activities, it is all the time to give encouragement, inspiration and motivation to officials and players, rather than interfering with FAS affairs."
One of the main areas of contention within some factions of the local football fraternity is the fact that the seat of the FAS president is not an elected one.
But, contrary to popular belief, this does not contravene Fifa statutes.
In article 17.2, it is stated that a Fifa member's "bodies shall be either elected or appointed in that Association. A member's statutes shall provide for a procedure that guarantees the complete independence of the election or appointment".
While questions may be raise on the point of "complete independence of the appointment" of the FAS president, Lim asserts that the national association has steered clear of the threat of suspension.
He said: "Factually, in the Singapore context, the government interference can be said to be non-existent."