FAS ● Apr 16, 2020
FAS President’s letter to Singapore football fraternity
Dear members of the FAS,
I hope this message find you and your loved ones coping well during these trying times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not just football, but its effects have been felt by our families, businesses and communities. The severity of the virus outbreak has inevitably impacted many aspects of our daily lives.
On the global front, the international football scene has been decimated by the virus, with the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship being the biggest casualty to-date. Here in Singapore, our FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 matches against Palestine and Saudi Arabia last month were postponed as a result and it is increasingly likely our June fixture against Uzbekistan may be deferred. We currently lie third in our group and were looking forward to resuming our campaign, none more so than our very own National Team Coach Tatsuma Yoshida. Despite his disappointment, Tatsuma decided to pen an open letter to the Singapore fans calling on them to band together during this difficult period. You may view his letter here (http://fas.org.sg/tatsuma-open-letter-singapore-fans/).
Our leading league competition, the Singapore Premier League (SPL), was not spared either. As football leagues across the world began to shut down, the SPL continued to hold out as we endeavoured to keep the competition going while adhering to the necessary health and safety precautions and protocols advised by the Singapore Government. Our fans responded in force by turning up in droves to support the clubs. Even when it was necessary to play our games behind closed doors, the FAS continued to provide access to the fans via broadcast platforms on SingTel and StarHub as well as online streaming channels. This resulted in our online viewership numbers spiking to new highs as football fans once again demonstrated their support for local football.
When the government directive came to suspend all sports events, we complied with the decision immediately and began looking into the possible repercussions this would have on our SPL players and club staff. Together with the respective local SPL club chairmen and other relevant stakeholders, the FAS has been tirelessly working hard to ensure that the livelihoods of these personnel are not affected. After extensive discussions with the respective local Singapore Premier League clubs’ chairmen and relevant stakeholders, the unanimous decision is that there will be no revisions made to the wages of their club players and staff at the current moment. This was made possible with the supplementary subsidy that was made available by the FAS in order to aid the clubs during this difficult period.
In addition, the FAS will collaborate with the local SPL clubs to capitalise on this “down-time”, by investing resources to assist them to further develop their capabilities. By doing this, it will also relieve the clubs’ main concern of long-term sustainability. This would include specific online courses for players, coaches as well as administrative staff which will equip them with the necessary skill sets to be future-ready once the sport is able to resume as per normal. Greater focus will also be placed on ensuring that the players not only maintain their current level of fitness but also explore ways of raising them as well.
Our amateur and women’s competitions were scheduled to begin at the start of the second quarter of this year. This is unfortunately no longer possible given the current situation. We understand our clubs from the Singapore Football Leagues, Island Wide League, Women’s Premier League and Women’s National League are eager to kick off. The FAS and myself have initiated discussions with the various Presidents and managers of these clubs and we will continue these engagements in the coming months as we attempt to work out a viable solution that would see the players return to the pitch while the clubs still receive the necessary financial assistance that they had been eligible for.
As we navigate our way through these uncharted waters which can be unsettling, I would like to assure you that the FAS remains committed to protecting the health and financial well-being of you and your families.
While we wait for the situation to improve and for normalcy to resume, we need to ensure that everyone does their part to help flatten the curve. On our part, the FAS has initiated telecommuting from home for all staff. However, our work will not be disrupted as we will ensure that your needs are still met in a timely and satisfactory manner despite the current situation. We would like to thank everyone who has been working tirelessly and contributing in their own way to contain this situation, from frontline healthcare workers to all of you who have been staying at home. As a gesture of our collective appreciation, this year’s AIA Community Shield participants Tampines Rovers FC and Hougang United FC, together with the FAS, made a collective donation of $25,000 to The Courage Fund, which is facilitated by Community Chest and National Council of Social Service (NCSS). It is our way of showing that football can contribute towards social good and be used as a platform to have a positive impact on lives.
It is only through our concerted efforts that we will overcome this adversity together. The FAS, my Council and I are continually thinking of ways to serve you, the football fraternity, and we will strive to carry on with our efforts.
This is the time for us to show that we are united as a fraternity and as a nation as we exemplify our motto of being ONESTRONG. I look forward to seeing you all when we are able to resume the beautiful game once again on football pitches across the island.
On behalf of the FAS Council and staff, please stay safe and healthy during this period.
Lim Kia Tong