The path into the Fifa Council may have just become easier for Zainudin Nordin.
The outgoing president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has made known his desire to run for a spot in Fifa’s top decision making body, and was slated to challenge three other men from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – Chinese Football Association general secretary Zhang Jian, former Iranian Football Federation president Ali Kafashian Naeni and Qatar Football Association (QFA) vice-president Saoud Al-Mohannadi – for two positions.
With less than two weeks before the AFC Congress on Sept 27 in Goa, there has been no official word from Fifa on its next course of action over Al-Mohannadi.
This comes after its Ethics Committee recommended that Al-Mohannadi be banned for at least two years and six months for a failure to properly cooperate and provide truthful information to the investigatory chamber in the framework of an investigation unrelated to the awarding of the 2022 Fifa World Cup to Qatar.
A Fifa spokesman told The New Paper that the organisation “can’t comment on potential scenarios”, but sources suggest that Al-Mohannadi could drop out of the race.
With Zhang backed by the East Asian Football Federation, he is believed to be a shoo-in for one of the two spots, leaving Zainudin (inset) to battle it out with Kafashian for the remaining slot available on the Fifa Council.
The FAS president told TNP that there will be no jet-setting around the continent to campaign, and he is not assuming anything with regard to Al-Mohannadi’s situation.
“That is between the Fifa Ethics Committee and him, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the matter. I’m just focused on my candidacy and putting forward what I believe in, and can bring to the table,” he said.
“I don’t have the kind of resources like some (other candidates in the past) do, and I campaign on my ability and the limited resources that I have.
“I will write to all Member Associations of AFC to tell them who I am and what I stand for, and I will use the internet and social media to communicate how I can value add to the Council,”
Zainudin’s candidacy will leverage Singapore’s transparent and clean reputation, focusing on ethics and governance. These are factors he believes are vital, as Fifa aims to close the chapter on the reign of its former president Sepp Blatter, who is now mired in corruption investigations.
“The FAS has been, at least for the last three years, in the top three National Sports Associations in Singapore, based on Sport Singapore’s governance audits that look at systems, processes and transparency, and that’s something I’m proud of,” said Zainudin, who will step down as president when the association conducts its first election, which is targeted to be held before the end of 2016.
“Systems and processes are very important for any organisation because that allow its leader to function freely and look at the important bigger picture.
“Singapore is known for its systems and processes, and that is one of the key reasons why we are clean. It may be tedious to implement, but it’s a vital step.”
Zainudin is part of the AFC’s Governance Reform Task Force that has already implemented recommendations of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
“We’ve already installed similar processes in the AFC, system that govern procurement, finance, appointments, ethics, appeals, and even whistle blowing. It is something that we should be proud of,” he said.
“Asean is a part of Asia, and it can be a leader in new things, like the Asean Super League (ASL), something that Asean and even the world can look forward to,” said Zainudin who spearheads the Asean Football Federation committee driving the ASL project.
Zainudin will reveal his manifesto in the week ahead.