TUNKU ISMAIL TARGETING FOUR KEY AREAS IN FAM
NEW FA of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim took centrestage following the association’s annual congress yesterday. TIMESPORT details Tunku Ismail’s responses to questions over what steps he plans to take next
Question: What is your shortterm goal as FAM president? Answer: From today I will check FAM’s budget, to study it and see how much money we have. The priority is to take care of the budget and I’m going to be very transparent and where we are going to channel it to.
Next is to fix the national team as much as I can, in terms of appointment of coaches, selection of players, training methods, ideology and playing philosophy.
Thirdly, I want to improve quality of referees in the country and we have to not only implement certain methods like getting advance technology but also to get a professional system from abroad to educate our referees and raise the level of refereeing.
Fourthly is to reduce FAM staff because I only want those who can contribute to the organisation and, as my responsibility is to safeguard the finance of FAM.
These are the first four immediate action plan and then we have other plans in terms of development and everything else.
Question: What do you think of the line up of the new executive committee?
Answer: The first thing I want to do is to tell everybody that they have to follow my momentum and pace because I like to do things very fast. I’m very determined and I’m a young man and I like to get things done.
Those who are in position now will have to follow the momentum and do their job. I will be watching them very closely. But I’m not worried about that because I will put mostly my people in place everywhere whether it is the disciplinary committee , treasurer and integrity committee.
Question: When are these people expected to be in place? Answer: By tomorrow. I don’t waste time and I will give their names to the general secretary and then we have to start putting everything into place.
Question: When can a decision concerning the national team be expected?
Answer: If you want, by today. I already have Mario Gomez in place to replace Ong Kim Swee, who will go to the national Under23 team. Gomez will have his assistants and I will allow him the freedom to choose but I will monitor his performance. If there is an improvement in the level of play, he can stay. If not up to the mark, then we have to change.
Question: When will Mario Gomez start work? Answer: This week. It is confirmed, the exco will agree with me.
Question: What is to happen to FMLLP (Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership)?
Answer: (Talks about National Football Development Programme) Recently, the sport minister (Khairy Jamaluddin) said he wants to work closely with me and I still think the budget for (NFDP) should really go to FAM. I believe if he really wants to help and contribute, the ones who need to be responsible for development should be the affiliates and clubs.
Therefore, if the affiliates and clubs don’t have development programmes of their own then they will have serious repercussions with me. I need to have people who are working towards the direction we are going and what the fans in the country demand.
They demand to see improvements in the structure and the system, therefore I feel the budget should be given to FAM and each affiliate and club participating so that they can run their own youth development programme with the assistance of the coaches in NFDP. That is my opinion but we haven’t discuss about that in detail yet.
Question: What about FMLLP then? What is the future for the M-League organisers? Answer: With FMLLP, I will be the chairman of the board and I will check what is their intention and what they can do to improve. But I am going to be very blunt and honest and transparent.
Question: Why is FAM sacking Frank Bernhardt when the Sea Games is just months away?
Answer: I think that for now I need to have a different team and I don’t see that we can work together. He has a different ideology and a different way of dealing with things. I have different way of working. Since I’ve been put here as president, I think everybody has to respect my decision and what I am going to do.
Therefore, give me the space to improve the national team in a short period of time. I will meet with Bernhardt and discuss with him to see what we can come up with but for now this is my immediate plan.
Question: What about teams who fail to pay players on time?
Answer: They have to be serious and they know that if they delay payment then they shouldn’t be there. I think there should be others to do their job. When a team can’t pay salaries it is clearly a sign of mismanagement of funds.
Question: What is your plan for the improvement of the national system going forward?
Answer: The first thing you need to do when it comes to the national system is that everybody needs to understand that Thailand improved because they did things the right way.
Money was channelled in the right way in terms of broadcasting rights to the teams. They also have an educational programme for people running football clubs and give priority to youth development which is not done here. Here the priority is to buy foreign players because they only have short-term plans to play in the league.
I’m going to keep the affiliates close to me, to work with me, case-study on what we have to do with budgets.
I’m also trying to get Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers transfer training grounds to participating teams to maintain. The thing now is that teams have to focus on youth development , upgrading of facilities and implement of professionalism.
The biggest problem now is none do that, except for Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Question: Will you retain Datuk Hamidin Amin as general secretary?
Answer: Many people have asked me that. The one who does the work is the president. The one who must ensure everyone do their work is the president. For now, Datuk Hamidin remains as the general secretary and if he does not do the work up to my standard, then I’m sorry Datuk Hamidin.
We have that understanding and I think all the exco members and affiliates understand my goals for FAM but also my principles and policies. I only want those who contribute to the organisation. Question: What is the biggest challenge facing you?
Answer: The fans. They want us to be in the World Cup as soon as possible and win the World Cup. So we will work on that. Look, we have been in a slump for 30 years. We have to be realistic about targets. Now there is the Asian Cup qualifiers and they say at least get us to the Asian Cup. I just came in. I don’t think I can. I’m going to be honest but I will do my best. I’m not just going to sit here and not do anything. I will be with the team, coaches and players and we will give our best shot.
The target is to improve the system so that in the long-term, we will have a good football nation, in terms of organisation, structure and the policies.
Question: What is the time frame to “clean house”? Answer: It will take me a couple of weeks, if I work hard enough (laughs). It is not just about improving the structure. I have to set the policies, then I have to go on the ground and see where the actual problem is. But I can’t give a particular guarantee when but it shouldn’t be too long.
Question: Do you think one term is enough to achieve your targets?
Answer: I hope so. I hope I can achieve everything in two or three years, or even earlier. But what is important is that our vision is clear, work hard in that direction. I’m blunt and honest and the media and fans can ask me anything. I don’t have a particular time frame but we are working in a way to make sure everything can be done as soon as possible.
Question: What is your opinion on the newly-elected exco? Answer: Most of them are people you have seen before, very familiar faces. I have my style of working and they have to adapt to my style and to me. That is very plain and simple.
Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim