Mainstreaming football reforms into Sulom

Last December, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) approved a raft of reforms promulgated by Fifa relating to term limits, financial disclosures, separation of powers and promotion of women in football.

Some proposals initiated by local clubs were shot down.

Delegates bang heads at a previous FAM AGM

However, the challenge now is to ensure that the approved reforms cascade down to FAM affiliates, including Super League of Malawi (Sulom). Candidates for the post of legal adviser in the forthcoming Sulom elections must embrace the reformist spirit and make clear their plans on how they would help Sulom mainstream and harmonise reformist measures should they be elected.

In order to mirror Fifa’s template, no one must hold the same football office for 12 years as the tenure is now limited to three terms of four years. This must apply to the Sulom executive members as well as those appointed to various sub-committees.

Term limits enhance accountability and afford an opportunity for organisational renewal.

Although Fifa adopted reforms committed to disclosure of annual income and earnings for the president, secretary general, council members and chairpersons of independent and judicial committees, there is no clarity on FAM’s position regarding these integrity initiatives.

It appears FAM failed to adopt reforms designed to promote transparency of compensation for leading officials. Sulom must also endeavour to harmonise its statutes with those of Fifa by publicising individual compensation and allowances of elected officials on an annual basis.

Fifa has also embarked on a drive to separate the political and managerial functions. Elected officials are now responsible for provision of strategic direction whilst the secretariat—comprising professionals—enjoys oversight regarding operational and commercial matters.

FAM largely follows this model by employing a full-time chief executive officer to preside over the secretariat and daily operations in order to execute the strategic mandate. No longer are the offices of general secretary and treasurer occupied by elected football politicians. Yet Sulom seems to be lagging behind in so far as maintaining a nimble and modern football organizational structure is concerned.

Time is ripe for Sulom to equally review its organisational structure and align it to contemporary practices and trends. Many decision making powers concerning commercial matters like broadcasting rights have been stripped from football politicians and have been entrusted to professionals with a view to eliminate undue influence of the former over the latter.

FAM has also embraced Fifa principles of inclusivity through promotion of female representation. However, there is lack of a similar provision in the Sulom statutes to guarantee fixed female representation. Sulom must create a more diverse decision making environment and culture through express statutory provision.

Fifa has also set up a stakeholders committee, including key role players such as players, club and league representatives. Both FAM and Sulom are implicated for their failure to follow suit.

Curiously, FAM had all along imposed minimum academic qualifications for one to be eligible to be elected into the executive in sharp contrast with global trends. FAM has since abolished the provision which Sulom never codified.

Although FAM shot down the proposal for the legal adviser of Sulom must be sufficiently conversant with emerging legal trends in the football world and possess capacity to provide counsel that will assist the institution navigate through a maze of competing considerations.

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