No vote: Why FAS needs an overhaul

FAS president Zainudin and deputy president Bernard Tan meeting the media after the general assembly.

IAN DE COTTA

THE VOTE on proposed amendments to the Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) constitution that was supposed to have taken place today during its Annual General Meeting did not happen.

It is another day at the FAS when things just don’t quite click.

So what happened?

According to incumbent president Zainudin Nordin and his deputy, Bernard Tan, it is because there was “so much representations” from a number of affiliate members on the proposed revised constitution.

Others, they said, wanted more time to consider the changes.

By “so much representations”, we can only assume there is widespread disagreement on what the FAS wants to change in the constitution that members would have rejected it if put to the vote.

If the amendments got the “Yea”, they would have paved the way for the first free elections of the FAS president and Council members in nearly five decades.

Was there a major oversight by the FAS in its attempt to secure the agreement of the 46 affiliates that would have allowed the vote to take place today?

It seems so.

On Sept 15 the FAS said FIFA had approved the proposed amendments but had met clubs a week earlier to discuss the changes.

One of the key gripes that irked affiliates is the stipulation that a presidential candidate must have had an active role in association football for two of the last five years. (See my commentary here: Will rules bar able men from FAS elections?)

Which means those who had already formed teams to stand for the FAS polls with candidates who did not meet this criterion had less than three weeks to find suitable replacements.

This is no small adjustment and with the dearth of talented sports administrators in this country, it is unlikely they will make the starting line.

It gives those in the present Council standing for re-election a significant advantage because of their prior knowledge of the impending changes.

So the big question is: Why didn’t the FAS consult with member affiliates on the constitutional revisions for the elections when they started redrafting it nine months ago?

Zainudin and Tan said FIFA must approve the amendments first. But this does not hold water because they went on to say the FAS began talking to clubs about the changes a week before football’s world governing body gave the green light.

What happened today is symptomatic of the structural decay plaguing the FAS for the past two decades that have led to Singapore football’s present ill health.

This is why a breath of fresh air with new Council members to bring sweeping changes within the FAS is urgently needed.

The drama continues and we have to wait a while longer.

I’m tracking the FAS elections and will tweet developments on Twitter at @iandecotta as and when they happen.