Con­fu­sion at FFSL-- spec­u­la­tion rife

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS - By Naushad Amit

The world's most pop­u­lar sport is in ' troubled wa­ters' in Sri Lanka, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, af­ter the de­ci­sion of Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion of Sri Lanka (FFSL) to vote in favour of the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments tabled at the An­nual Congress of the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion ( AFC) on Oc­to­ber 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Soon af­ter the news broke in Sri Lanka that FFSL rep­re­sen­ta­tives have voted in favour, the coun­try's Min­istry of Sports warned the lo­cal foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion that it could face ' reper­cus­sions' for its de­ci­sion. Min­is­ter of Sports, Faiszer Musthapha, on Thurs­day sum­moned the Exe c u t ive Com­mit­tee of FFSL to fur­ther dis­cuss on the is­sue, af­ter the foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion had breached the ' for­eign pol­icy' of Sri Lanka, ac­cord­ing to the 'rec­om­men­da­tion' of the Le­gal Depart­ment of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs.

It is still un­clear on what grounds or pro­vi­sions did the Min­istry of Sports gave such an in­struc­tion to an in­de­pen­dent sports gov­ern­ing body on how to vote at a re­gional or global congress. Yet, FFSL of­fi­cials still are of the view that the Min­istry of Sports is the sov­er­eign care­taker of sports in Sri Lanka, and it (FFSL) is bound to fol­low in­struc­tions.

At the meet­ing held on Thurs­day be­tween the Min­is­ter of Sports and the FFSL Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee, it is said that the Min­is­ter has in­structed the foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion to with­draw its vote, caste on Oc­to­ber 31. Nei­ther the Min­istry of Sports or FFSL were will­ing to comment on this.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, the Min­is­ter's re­quest to with­draw a vote used, is hi­lar­i­ous, if such a call was made. How­ever, fur­ther ac­cord­ing to sources, the FFSL Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee had unan­i­mously de­cided to vote against, if the AFC al­lows an in­di­vid­ual from a non-mem­ber coun­try or an un­elected in­di­vid­ual from a mem­ber coun­try is nom­i­nated as a can­di­date for the Pres­i­dency of AFC. This de­ci­sion was made at a spe­cial meet­ing held af­ter the FFSL Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee met the Min­is­ter of Sports, later on Thurs­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the now passed amend­ments of the AFC, it would open the op­por­tu­nity for non-mem­bers or out­siders to be­come mem­bers of its Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee in place of elected mem­bers from mem­ber coun­tries. Lo­cal foot­ball ex­perts call the in­tended con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment as a 'breach of For­eign Pol­icy adopted by Sri Lanka' as well as a ob­struc­tion of rights earned by the FFSL rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the AFC.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent of the AFC, Sheik Sal­man of Bahrain has been in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing for­ward the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments but it was adopted with a ma­jor­ity of 42 while only four coun­tries -- Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rate, South Korea and Uzbek­istan -voted against.

FFSL had of­fi­cially made the AFC aware of its de­ci­sion in writ­ing later on Thurs­day. The FFSL's new pol­icy de­ci­sion, how­ever, would not make much of an im­pact as the vote to elect an AFC Pres­i­dent is con­ducted through a se­cret bal­lot. Even if Sri Lanka votes against the FFSL would not eth­i­cally have the right to pub­licly make any an­nounce­ment of their de­ci­sion at a se­cret bal­lot. The AFC elec­tions are due mid next year.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports the Min­is­ter has in­structed the FFSL of­fi­cials to con­sult the Min­istry of Sports at any fu­ture events when sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions arise, to which the lo­cal foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tors have agreed to.

The Min­is­ter of Sports, Faizser Musthapha had writ­ten to the FFSL Pres­i­dent on Oc­to­ber 26 af­ter me­dia re­ports on the move of AFC's con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments were made pub­lic in Sri Lanka. The Min­is­ter had con­firmed that 'there would not be any in­ter­fer­ence from him, but to take the best de­ci­sion in the best in­ter­est for foot­ball and Sri Lanka'. Later the Min­is­ter of Sports in con­tra­dic­tion, af­ter FFSL of­fi­cials voted in favour of the AFC con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments, has said that he had ver­i­fied mat­ters with the Le­gal Depart­ment of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, and their re­ply was that the amended con­sti­tu­tional change would al­low "an in­di­vid­ual ( Sri Lankan) not ac­cepted by Sri Lanka could eas­ily make the way into the AFC Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee" and 'it could open doors to se­ri­ous reper­cus­sions if the ap­pointed (Sri Lankan) goes against his own coun­try'.

Lo­cal news­pa­pers re­ported that the Min­istry of Sports is con­tem­plat­ing on dis­solv­ing the FFSL and ap­point­ing an In­terim Com­mit­tee, as well as re­mov­ing the FFSL Pres­i­dent, Anura de Silva and re­plac­ing him with a com­pe­tent author­ity. But none of the spec­u­la­tions have been con­firmed or de­nied by ei­ther par­ties.

Mean­while Ran­jith Ro­drigo, the for­mer Pres­i­dent of FFSL, elab­o­rat­ing on the en­tire episode, ex­plained that the sit­u­a­tion was avoid­able and the cur­rent of­fi­cials were not prompt enough to take mat­ters se­ri­ously.

"It's not easy to take back a de­ci­sion al­ready made. That's when the im­por­tance of mak­ing col­lec­tive de­ci­sions work well. The AFC has all the right to ta­ble con­sti­tu­tional changes or amend­ments, and mem­ber coun­tries have all the rights to vote in favour or against. But with Sri Lanka's po­si­tion com­ing into a bal­ance at that mo­ment, the FFSL of­fi­cials could have met the AFC of­fi­cials ear­lier on, and ex­plained their sit­u­a­tion. They (FFSL) could have eas­ily elab­o­rated the AFC on Sri Lanka's stance on this and con­veyed the Min­is­ter of Sports' con­cern. Sri Lanka could have eas­ily ab­stained from vot­ing ex­pla­na­tions. I'm sure the AFC would un­der­stand, but un­for­tu­nately present FFSL of­fi­cials didn't un­der­stand that pos­si­bil­ity," Ro­drigo ex­plained.

If, as spec­u­lated, the Min­istry of Sports de­cides to ap­point an in­terim com­mit­tee af­ter dis­solv­ing the present FFSL ad­min­is­tra­tion, Sri Lanka could face se­ri­ous reper­cus­sions from the global and re­gional bod­ies of foot­ball -- the FIFA and AFC. The mat­ter should be se­ri­ously ad­dressed rather than blam­ing just one or more sides and bet­ter ex­plained to AFC and FIFA, in­stead of mak­ing stern state­ments, which could worsen tides of the al­ready troubled wa­ters of foot­ball in Sri Lanka.

For­mer al­lies Anura de Silva (L) and Ran­jith Ro­drigo (R) now turned foes in foot­ball

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.