Zainudin admits he could step down from FAS presidency as elections loom

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin has hinted that he will not extend his stay in office, with open elections scheduled for June 2016 to determine his successor. 

Zainudin, who has held his position since 2009, told assembled media that he is unlikely to pursue a fourth term as president.

FAS had announced on Tuesday evening during their 33rd Annual General Meeting that they will be complying with world governing body FIFA’s directive to hold elections to select their office bearers, instead of continuing with the usual practice of selection by the country’s sports minister.

Its constitution will be amended by March 31, 2016, with elections set to be held next June, and Zainudin revealed that he is likely to step down from the helm of FAS.

“More than a year ago, I was about to step down,” shared the 52-year-old. “Things are now open with this election process, but my position has not changed. There needs to be a revitalisation of the FAS and you always need to make changes for the future.

“There’ll be new candidates coming up, so I’ll need to ensure this transition process is done properly and in the smoothest manner.”

While the FAS had drawn flak from the public for the longstanding selection process, Zainudin – who succeeded Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee as FAS president – was keen to clarify that they had not flouted any of FIFA’s rules on governmental interference at any point.

“We read so much from the newspapers and on the Internet, but I have to say that FAS has not done anything wrong,” he emphasised. “We have been in consultation with FIFA for the last 30 years.

“Even though we do things differently, they accept it because of the uniqueness we have in Singapore. Every time we ask FIFA for special dispensation, we get it because they know we do things transparently.”

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Meanwhile, FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong also asserted that the change to an electoral process is a decision taken by the association itself, instead of being enforced by FIFA.

“Our appointment process of office bearers has been well established and tested over the last three decades,” explained the lawyer. “The office bearers do their duties in the capacity of volunteers and are supported by full-time staff.

“It can be said that the game of football in Singapore has been largely free of corruption and the administration of FAS has earned good ratings from FIFA and AFC (Asian Football Confederation).

“However in recent times, there have been some disquiet from certain quarters suggesting that our appointment process goes against the principles of complete independence, although there has been no evidence offered of actual cases of interference.

The election mechanism is yet to be finalised with FIFA, but Lim has revealed that there are two stipulations which FAS could be set to implement. 

Office bearers will serve a four-year term, instead of a two-year term, while candidates will be subjected to integrity checks by an independent ethics committee for purposes of transparency and accountability.

“FIFA statutes state that it is not mandatory that bodies shall assume office by the election route only,” the 60-year-old continued. “But after discussions with the various sports governing bodies in Singapore, I think it’s time that we go through this process to put to rest those perceptions.

“Countries like Russia and China have recently adopted this process and I felt we could be a thorn in the flesh and appear to be stubborn if we do not do the same. Now we look forward to new characters coming forward to manage the most popular sport in the world.”