FAS constitutional amendments not tabled at AGM
Constitutional changes dropped from FAS' AGM agenda, but election within this year is possible, says Fifa official
They were constitutional amendments that would have changed the face of football here, and several in the local fraternity were surprised when Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin called yesterday's Annual General Meeting (AGM) to a close without tabling the topic for discussion.
The changes would have allowed the fraternity to pick their own leaders for the first time in over 30 years, but were withdrawn from the agenda because "more time was needed for consultation" with stakeholders.
The New Paper understands that Islandwide League side Gymkhana FC and the S.League's Hougang United asked for more time to study the constitutional amendments, with the latter asking for a postponement of the discussion on the constitution.
Hougang pointed to article 12.1(c) of the current FAS constitutions which require 21 days' written notice for members to bring up any other matters at the AGM.
The FAS failed to meet this deadline, by releasing the complete document of proposed constitutional changes to its affiliates only on Sept 15, after receiving Fifa approval.
That was just nine days before yesterday's meeting.
"The AGM needed to be held by the end of September. Fifa's reply came a week-and-a-half late… and we could not circulate a copy that was not Fifa-endorsed," explained FAS vice-president Bernard Tan.
"We started our consultation (with affiliates) but, unfortunately, the document itself was only able to be delivered some time later."
Despite the decision that was taken only late on Friday evening, the fraternity left FAS' Jalan Besar headquarters in positive mood.
This was because a "constructive dialogue" on the proposed constitutional revisions was had with representatives from world football governing body Fifa, and the Asian Football Confederation.
"The dialogue was very helpful, and that was exactly what we've wanted, to put forward our views on the proposed changes, and not have a finalised document forced down our throats," said lawyer Alfred Dodwell, who has thrown his name into the hat for the election.
Dodwell is part of a team managed by former Woodlands Wellington general manager R Vengadasalam.
The team had submitted 40 revisions to FAS' proposed constitutional amendments earlier last week.
"There are some (changes) that we will concede, after reasonable explanations that we got today, and we will do a revised version with some changes that we still think should be made," he added.
After about two hours of discussion, Fifa's manager of member associations, Luca Nicola, emerged believing that the FAS can still meet its own deadline of holding the election before the year runs out.
"There is intellectual openness, and realisation that this process is something good for the FAS," he said.
"I think the FAS is now ready to convene an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) to finally adopt this new set of statutes and then to elections as soon as possible.
"I think it's possible (to hold the election) by the end of the year."
Nicola revealed that this process of constitutional amendments is a complicated one, with some associations taking as long as four years to bring it to a close.
"Changing (the constitution) has far-reaching complications… and if Singapore can do it within the year, it would be a very good performance," he added.
Led by FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong, work on the matter has taken the FAS some 10 months thus far.
"Maybe it's over-confidence or underestimation, but the interest (in the constitutional amendments) could have been better measured," said Zainudin, explaining the situation.
"But we have learnt from this episode and we will further engage our members. At least we now have a baseline for everybody to discuss.
"We welcome all suggestions and proposals. We will go through every single one and if we can find a certain consensus, then we'll make the amendments, send the constitution to Fifa for approval," he said.
The FAS will have to call for an EOGM for its affiliates to vote on the matter.
The current FAS executive committee's term finishes at the end of the month, but - under current statutes - will seek approval from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to continue running the association until the constitution is passed and the election is called.
Despite the delay, Venga believes this is an opportune time for the local fraternity to step forward and share their ideas.
"Now we have the perfect platform for armchair critics to come out and speak up on what they think will be good for our football," he said.
"And I hope they actually do come out and contribute."
'Fifa statutes not set in stone'
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has spent some 10 months working with Fifa, on constitutional amendments to allow the sport's fraternity to elect its own leadership.
While the FAS has aligned its revised statutes with those recommended by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Fifa, an official from the world football governing body revealed that these recommendations are "not set in stone".
This paves the way for groups like those led by former Woodlands Wellington manager R Vengadasalam to propose their revisions that could be written in should they get support from FAS' 46 voting members.
"There are requirements from Fifa and AFC that have been covered in the amendments," said Fifa manager of member associations, Luca Nicola, who along with AFC's representative Mun Si Song, attended yesterday's FAS Annual General Meeting.
While he did not elaborate, he did reveal that some changes mooted by Venga and his team can be allowed, should they receive consensus from the fraternity.
"The eligibility requirements set for the presidential candidates are not set in stone," he said.
"Each member association can, based on its own culture, context and traditions, make its own decisions on that… even though we think that (the current requirement) is open and will allow a large pool of candidates to be able to run," he said.
The FAS has proposed that the presidential candidate must have played an active role in association football in two of the last five years, while Venga's team have put forward that ex-chairmen of S.League clubs be allowed to run.
His team have also proposed that instead of nine elected council members, there should be 12, while also calling to scrap a transitional rule that will allow clubs that are not participating in competitions this year to vote at the election when it happens.
The New Paper understands that Hougang United questioned at least two points in FAS' proposed constitution. But, after yesterday's dialogue with Nicola and Mun to clarify amendments, Venga's team will drop some of their recommendations.
"Things were much clearer after the dialogue with (Nicola and Mun), and we will not be pursuing some changes that we initially wanted," said lawyer Alfred Dodwell, who will run for office as part of the team managed by Venga.
"But we will still fight on the issue of eligibility rules for the president, and the issue of council members. We will release a revised version of our proposed changes shortly."
Nicola reiterated that despite Fifa being open to amendments (that are unique to a country), it can be passed only with agreement from its affiliates.
He said: "Changes need to be discussed by the (FAS') members, and the final decision can only be reached with a consensus." - SHAMIR OSMAN