[WATCH] MFA targeting financial crime in football with reform for top clubs

 Malta Football Association President Bjorn Vassallo insists football commercialisation will take the sport to the next level  

MFA president Bjorn Vassallo on XTRA
MFA president Bjorn Vassallo on XTRA

A governance reform inside the Malta Football Association will lead to fairer competitions and reduction of financial crime within the sport, President Bjorn Vassallo said on TVM’s Xtra.

The MFA president said the governance reform will first focus on internal reforms for better separation of powers and a revamped way of decision-making.  

A second level of reforms will ensure clubs in Malta have appropriate licensing, with the MFA splitting clubs into two tiers – amateur and elite level clubs. “This will mean a change in club licensing prerequisites, and works hand in hand with the third level of reform,” he said.  

The final stage will be the commercialisation of club ownership, meaning clubs at elite level will need to have the majority shareholding owned by a company.  “Football, including clubs, associations and other personnel generates a yearly economy of around €25 million. This means that financial crime is a reality, and these changes will hope to address the issue,” he said.  

The statute change will be carried out next July. 

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Despite sports associations’ insistence, health authorities last week refused to lift restrictions banning all contact sport in the country. This led to association to a stop of football leagues, with Hamrun Spartans FC, clinching their eighth league title due to a 1 June deadline from UEFA for the submission of clubs competing in European competitions next season.  

Vassallo expressed his disappointment at the authorities’ decision, stating the association had introduced a number of measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19. “The MFA had entered into an agreement with health authorities to take contact tracing under its wing. We employed 11 doctors and made a €200,000 investment to ensure we had a good system, which in turn resulted in only 2% of tests turning out positive,” he said.  

He said the system was different to other European leagues, which required players and coaching staff to test negative before a set time. “Public health demanded we introduce a contact tracing system.”

Asked whether the association had considered the return of fans in stadiums, Vassallo said they had looked into systems which would have worked in Malta.  “Now we must look ahead and analyse how the situation will pan out,” he said.  

He said the association was hoping the return of fans in stadiums come the next international match on 1 September. “We hope we would be able to implement a similar system to that adopted for the Euro 2020 competition in summer.” 

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