When Singapore Lions coach Takayuki Nishigaya was booed off the pitch with fans calling for his head to roll, it was not a knee jerk reaction.
It has been a combination of factors which has made the national coach a lightning rod.
Results and the draws aside, the set of international friendlies against Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands once again showed up the glaring inefficiencies of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
And they illustrated it through their very own actions, or inaction.
WHY ONLY 3 SECTIONS OPEN
First and foremost, the FAS only catered for three sections of the National Stadium to be opened for the set of friendlies, which is about just having 5,000 fans at the venue.
Why then did they market the match as the Lions first return to the National Stadium after more than a year, and that it was Nishigaya’s first set of matches at the National Stadium since arriving?
Why did the FAS only anticipate only 10% of the National Stadium capacity, given that it also would have given up at least between 10% to 20% of the tickets to partners, players’ families, clubs and sponsors?
So the FAS expects that there are only 4,000 hardcore Lions fans in Singapore who would be willing to pay to watch the Lions in action?
Why so, especially given that there has been precedent data points?
In March 2022, the last time the Lions were out at the National Stadium, 9,183 and 14,896 fans turned up respectively for friendly matches against Philippines and Malaysia.
So why did the national football body only anticipate 5,000 fans this time around?
What data points did they use for their analysis and decision-making?
Additionally, given that it was also the school holidays, didn’t the FAS expect that there would be more fans turning up?
Wouldn’t that have been common sense?
Also, why did it not plan according to ticket demand, and cater for more sections to be opened when needed?
TMSG gave up a ticket to a family who had to be seated separately which goes against the core principle having families bond while supporting sport.
Does the national football body not even believe in its own national team?
THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
What’s worse, that the FAS did not make public how many tickets it put out for sale to the public was not ethical.
When tickets went on sale, the FAS did not reveal how many tickets were available for the public.
Especially given that fans would associate the National Stadium with 55,000 seats and not just 5,000, with many fans still expecting that tickets would be available for sale on match day.
Imagine the incredulity when the FAS announced that all tickets were snapped up, which then left fans questioning how it is tickets were sold out, given the expanse of the venue.
Fans who tried to buy tickets would have noticed that there were only three sections open, a point which TMSG had made in a social media post on 7 June.
What made matters worse for fans was that the FAS then explained in a statement to national daily The Straits Times that “the option to further open sections, while explored, was unattainable due to the extensive lead time required for logistical and manpower preparations for a safe environment for the fans.”
What exactly is the FAS going on about with its highly verbose statement?
It is just the use of very large words to describe how ill-equipped, inefficient and disorganised the administration seems to be.
FIFA dates are made known way in advance, and given that the FAS is also working with Sport Singapore for its Unleash the Roar project, couldn’t the venue have been booked a lot earlier, especially since dates are made known years in advance?
Yes, years in advance.
See list on FIFA’s official website here.
The FAS does not help itself in any way, and while its own leadership believe that fans have stepped on a bandwagon to publicly denigrate it, it is perhaps best to self-reflect and recognise that they need to do better.
LOSS OF PATIENCE AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
That the Straits Times published a letter from a reader calling for an overhaul of the management and culture of the FAS, surely alarm bells must be ringing in the ears of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Sport Singapore, who providing taxpayers funding to the FAS to the tune of about $20 million annually over the last five years.
The public has lost patience, and surely the time has arrived for accountability.
Oh wait, that’s not a concept understood by the people who are running the national football body.
Given time, the football’s failures will become a political issue, and maybe then, the people in charge will wake up from their slumber.
MAIN PHOTO: TMSG