Photo of Lim Kia Tong FAS from ESPN Sports

In yet another classic example of fiddling while Rome burns, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is now embroiled in high profile media drams over politics and donation money. Like the government-controlled state media Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp, Singapore’s football is ranked among the worst in the world with a 165th ranking in FIFA. However the management is now more concerned about holding an election over improving the quality of football league and clubs.

Contesting the FAS election are two factions made up of businessmen and local “experts” who could not work together – Team Lim Kia Tong (LKT) and Team Game Changers (TGC). TGC is headed by a regular FAS donor, Bill Ng, who is accusing the incumbent FAS council of mismanaging donation monies, in particular reference to a S$850,000 donation he made. Like the ruling party PAP, the incumbent cries “slanderous, defamatory, baseless and untrue”. It is unknown whether the incumbent Team LKT will commence defamation lawsuits against Bill Ng after the election, in similar fashion Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong runs to the Singapore Court crying his father’s name to seek redress.

Dramas aside, the two joker “teams” even came out with similar “manifestos”: both pointing to money as solutions.

Team LKT told state media reporters that the current management of the league is not a “sustainable model” and he want to made football in Singapore profitable:

“”It’s not about pumping in more money or getting in sponsors to come in to do ‘national service’ whilst the stadiums are still empty and there are no eyeballs to watch their advertisements … what we want to do is to introduce corporatisation where people with commercial interests can own the clubs. I would personally initiate an endowment for a cooperative fund for NFL clubs and players, as well as to source for investments and start a clubhouse to corporatise the NFL as a business.”

Interestingly, Team TGC also want more money in Singapore football:

“We need to open up more channels for revenue generation. But critically, we need to build football’s brand equity as our first priority. With a strong brand equity, there will be stronger levels of support from sponsors, and with stronger sponsorships, clubs will be able to get players and strong support systems. With better players, we will get fans turning up.”

PAP MP Zainudin Nordin stepped down as FAS’s President last year due to incompetency and outcries by local football professionals accusing him of being useless. The current Minister in-charge of sports is Grace Fu, who has never once commented on the state of Singapore football.

The FAS election will be held on Tuesday, April 18, but unlike the country’s election, the campaigning period is 3-month long and there is no GRC, Cooling Off Day, media censorship and the election department is not controlled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien  Loong.