Fifa monitoring FAS situation
FAS Electoral Committee says election will go on but world governing body keeping a close watch
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Electoral Committee (EC), which oversees the processes leading up to the FAS election - confirmed yesterday that the April 29 congress will go on.
This is despite national sports agency Sport Singapore filing a police report against National Football League (NFL) club Tiong Bahru FC, whose chairman is Bill Ng, one of two presidential candidates for the FAS election.
Ng's Game Changers are challenging former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong's Team LKT to earn the mandate of the association's 44 affiliates next Saturday.
Yesterday, SportSG revealed that it filed the police report on Wednesday night about an alleged misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru.
Shortly after the announcement, the FAS' offices at the Jalan Besar Stadium were raided, along with the clubhouses of Woodlands Wellington, Hougang United and Tiong Bahru.
Despite the ongoing investigations, the FAS' EC chairman K Bala Chandran said in response to media queries that there "is no reason for any disruption of the elections".
"The Ad Hoc Electoral Committee (EC) has no power to postpone or call off the election of the FAS Council and as at this moment knows of no reason for any disruption of the elections," he said in a statement.
"The duties of the EC are primarily to supervise the administrative process relating to the FAS Council elections.
"Bearing this in mind, the EC is of the view that it will not be proper for the EC to comment and or give its views on the matters which are being raised in the press and media."
However, The New Paper has learnt that world football governing body Fifa is monitoring the FAS situation.
Sources have revealed that there is a possibility of a postponement of the election, preceded by the installation of a normalisation committee as was the case in the lead-up to the Indonesian Football Federation (PSSI) election on Nov 10 last year.
The PSSI were slapped with a ban for government interference in a failure to resolve a dispute between the sports ministry and football association - they were barred from football activity from June 2014 to May 2016 - before the normalisation committee was installed and the election was carried out.
But it is not clear if a similar fate awaits Singapore.
"In relation to your query, Fifa is monitoring the situation concerning FAS. Please understand that we can't speculate on potential future scenarios," a Fifa spokesman told TNP.
Members of the local fraternity are calling for a postponement of the election, at least until investigations are concluded.
"Looking at the current scenario, maybe a deferment or postponement of the election to a later date could be in order," said ex-Geylang International chairman Patrick Ang, who is unaffiliated at this election.
"This way, the affiliates can have a clearer picture, to make an informed choice in an important vote that will decide the leadership of football."
Former Singapore international Seak Poh Leong agreed.
"This situation also has several implications for Lim (Kia Tong), so there is a logical reason for a delay," said Seak.
Lim, a former FAS vice-president, was still in office at the time several of the incidents under investigation occurred.
Former FAS general secretary Steven Yeo urged all parties concerned to take a cautious, consultative approach to the matter - to ensure that Singapore does not get slapped by a Fifa ban for what could be perceived as third-party interference in football affairs.
"If the authorities cannot assess the case by the election, how will affiliates vote? That may not go down well with the international community," he said. "In the current circumstances, it is best that the FAS, SportSG - and their legal teams - have a consultative dialogue with Fifa."
Despite the uncertainty surrounding their leader Ng, it was business as usual for the Game Changers who met up with NFL clubs and women's football sides at Bussorah Street last night to discuss plans to develop their respective games.
Ng was not present.
Harman Ali shared his team's plans to secure medical coverage, links with foreign clubs, more recognition through higher prize money and an awards night, and training courses for coaches and officials.
Zaki Ma'arof touched on a business model which could take the form of a cafe and facilities being run like a cooperative, where profits from membership and sales flow back to the NFL and Women's League clubs to make them sustainable.
Arriola Buenaventura Alphonsus, president of NFL Division 2 side Starlight Soccerites FC, one of 16 clubs and affiliates represented at the meeting last night, said: "Why not give them a chance to fulfil their plans and prove their worth?
"What I feel after hearing their presentation, however, is that if they get elected, they should focus on getting the football aspects right from the first year before looking at the business model."
Zamri Abdullah, chairman of Women's National League side Girls Dream Team Circuit FC, added: "A sustainable business model is a necessity for NFL and the Women's League teams in the long run and it's good to hear these ideas."
The football grapevine was abuzz with talk that some members of Ng's Game Changers were poised to drop out of the election, but team spokesman Steven Tan rubbished the talk.
"The full slate for the elections for Team Game Changers has been confirmed for April 29, and the team is looking forward to it," said Tan. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID LEE