The new Minister of Sports (MOS) is reported to have said that he would like to defer the SLC AGM in order to put the house in order. He even trekked to Dubai in order to have an Anti- Corruption Team located here, since it was disclosed that Sri Lanka topped the list of the [...]


Corruption in Sport is nothing new; does Sri Lanka Football take the cake!


Sports Minister Harin Fernando is presented with a national jersey by FFSL President Anura de Silva. The Minister would probably consider wearing it, with the amount of troubles he has.

The new Minister of Sports (MOS) is reported to have said that he would like to defer the SLC AGM in order to put the house in order. He even trekked to Dubai in order to have an Anti- Corruption Team located here, since it was disclosed that Sri Lanka topped the list of the most corrupt nations in the ICC rankings! Aspirants to high office in the run up to the SLC elections claim that the MOS should not be involved in controlling the affairs of an independent body but we all know that the Sports Law has overriding governmental authority on how sports is run in the country, even if international sports organisations demand the freedom to manage their affairs.

It is in this context that one should examine the sordid state of Football in the country. Plagued by a history of corrupt practices over a long period, the FFSL is mired in a dysfunctional syndrome from which there appears to be no escape. FIFA & AFC as well as the MOS does not seem to want to take a closer look at this prolonged malignancy and take corrective measures.

Instead FIFA it is learnt, has pledged USD 1 million to FFSL in assistance funds, something that the predators at Football House will await with glee. A prelude to this bounty is the appointment of the FFSL President as the Head of Delegation to the Sharjah Stadium, one of the venues of the on-going AFC Asian Cup 2019 competition underway in the desert state. While the FFSL President and his entourage believes this is a single honour and a dream of Sri Lanka competing at the highest levels one day, others view it as a timely reward by AFC in the run-up to the Confederation Elections later this year. In a scathing commentary on social media, Past President Ranjith Rodrigo countered the claims made by current FFSL President Anura De Silva and bemoaned the appointment without a proper delegation of his official functions here in Colombo.

Football watchers know the calamity that has beset the FFSL from the 80’s with successive administrations using the FFSL springboard to catapult into AFC and FIFA terrain. The lucre that is distributed so freely by these world bodies is like manna from heaven for our local football administrators. Time and again, we have highlighted how 01 single vote is so heavily prized by candidates for high office in the world bodies. All this came to a head when our own Vice President at FIFA was banned for life having fallen out of grace with the powers that be. FIFA President and the Secretary General were subsequently charged and banished from FIFA.

So, it is no small wonder that there is an incredible symbiosis that transcends all these deeds amidst which world football continues to flourish with enormous funding. The lacuna is that the Sri Lanka football player has not been the beneficiary of this largesse and brotherhood so benevolently bestowed on a chosen few. The appointment in Sharjah sadly falls into that axis and stirs the ire of football lovers in this country.

We have also witnessed several lapses in the Dialog Champions League Championship with several clubs crying afoul of the FFSL. These are the Premier Clubs in Sri Lanka and they receive a pittance for helping maintain a modicum of top-most football in this country. Dialog in a most myopic manner pays FFSL an abysmal sponsorship fee for such an important tournament.

Apparently, it bases its sponsorship fee on an assessment of the game’s popularity and standards of organisation. It will thus continue to remain in that limbo in the time to come. Both FFSL and Dialog must work on the premise that this apex Championship must be developed in the future and make appropriate investments to move to a semi-professional level. Regrettably, both parties don’t seem to have such an imagination! In desperation these premier clubs have now formed a Clubs Union which they hope will lobby the big guns to give more consideration to these top tier stakeholders who feed the national team with the required talent.

Recent newspapers have highlighted the delay in introducing the model FIFA constitution. These premier clubs have a stake in it. That may be why a premeditated delay is orchestrated. Unabated corruption prevents the goals that Football Sri Lanka seeks. Vision 2030 is already a blur. The Rs. 25M that went down a drain will not be found. The audit reports will forever remain closed. Will our dynamic MoS blow the long whistle and institute a Normalisation Committee with FIFA support to transform this popular international sport. It is time for all those Football Sri Lanka to take up this challenge.

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