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The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is the governing body of football in Singapore. It was founded as the Singapore Football Association in 1892, which lays claim to being the oldest Football Association in Asia. The football association adopted its current name on 13 January 1966.
The FAS is responsible for the organisation and development of football and advancing the game at all levels in Singapore, including its flagship Singapore Premier League, and the men's, women's and youth national football teams. Providing a structure for the game to flourish and governing the running of football in Singapore, the FAS also ensures that the Laws of the Game are adhered to, from the professional S.League to amateur leagues.
The FAS also manages the organisation and running of league and cup competitions, the stewardship of international teams, the establishment of youth development, women's football, refereeing and coaching frameworks.
FAS president had been appointed by the governing People's Action Party for three decades. In 2015, global football governing body FIFA requested an end to political interference in the appointment of the national body's council members, and non-compliance would make Singapore ineligible to take part in international competitions. FAS has since changed its constitution in 2016 and held general elections for its council members.
Singapore national team
The Singapore national football team, administered by FAS, is the most successful side that incorporated foreign-born players in ASEAN Football Championship history, winning the regional international tournament four times in 1998, 2004/5, 2007 and 2012. Singapore is behind Thailand after the Thais won their 5th time in the regional competition (as of 2016).
Youth Development Programmes
The FAS focuses on football development and operates national age group programmes with U-15, U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-23 teams (known as Young Lions, who compete in the country's professional Singapore Premier League).
All Singapore Premier League clubs have also fully implemented their own programmes for the Under-14s, adding on to the existing U-16s and U-18s program.
The FAS council was first appointed by the government since 1968, and has been controlled continually by government appointees for more than three decades from the 1980s to 2015. From 2004 to 2015, the FAS president had been an elected member of the ruling People's Action Party, and was appointed by the Minister for Sports. In 2015, global football governing body FIFA took issue with the politically-appointed leaders of the organisation. It requested an end to political interference in the appointment of the national body's council members and non-compliance would cause a suspension in Singapore's FIFA membership, making the country ineligible to take part in international competitions. FAS has since changed its constitution in 2016, and held general elections for its council members in 2017. FAS president and then PAP member of parliament Zainudin Nordin declared the association had "not done anything wrong".
"We have always been in consultation with FIFA over the last 30 years. They are aware of the uniqueness of our situation, and have always given us special dispensation."
Outrage over lack of investment in grassroots football
During the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on September 2016, it was revealed that organising expenses on grassroots competitions like the National Football League (NFL), Island Wide League (IWL) and FA Cup amounted to about $70,000 during the previous financial year from April 2015 to March 2016. This figure which represented a mere 0.2 per cent of the FAS' total annual budget of S$35.8 million sparked outrage within the local football community with many perceiving it as a clear indication of FAS's lack of regard for grassroots football. In a press conference on 13 October 2016, FAS vice-president Bernard Tan clarified that the amount did not include prize money and participation fees contributed by the teams counted under S. League account.
Probe into alleged misuse of funds
In April 2017, Bill Ng, owner of 2 Singapore football clubs, Hougang United and Tiong Bahru Football Club (TBFC), claimed that he had donated S$850,000 to the FAS with the intention of helping Singapore football, but that the money had gone to the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) instead. The allegations came in the prelude to the first open election of the FAS council. FAS secretary Winston Lee responded that Ng was aware of where the funds were used, that $200,000 went to the LionsXII, while $500,000 was used to support the AFF's Football Management System. Lee said that it was former FAS president and Member of Parliament Zainudin Nordin who asked Ng to donate to the AFF, while Ng disputed the claim. FAS responded with a statement that Ng's allegations of financial impropriety within FAS to damage the credibility of the association was regretable, and it was unusual that Ng had chosen to hide Zainudin's role in the transaction.
On 20 April 2017, the police raided the Football Association of Singapore over reports of financial misuse of funds filed by the Sports Ministry. Zainudin Nordin, Winston Lee, Bill Ng and his wife Bonnie Wong, were arrested and subsequently released. The four assisted with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) with the probe into the alleged misuse of funds and obstruction of club audits of TBFC.