Bjorn Vassallo has ‘no regrets’ over football association decisions

Malta Football Association President Bjorn Vassallo defends the decisions that determined the outcomes of all leagues, insisting this was democracy in action

MFA President Bjorn Vassallo
MFA President Bjorn Vassallo

Bjorn Vassallo has “no regrets” over the manner by which the Malta Football Association took its decisions to determine the outcome of its leagues.

The MFA President said on Wednesday that the decisions were taken by the council, the association’s highest decision-making body, in a democratic vote.

Vassallo said that he respected the decisions, insisting that in its actions over the past two months, the MFA acted in a transparent manner, in consultation with clubs and UEFA.

Football was suspended in March as a result of COVID-19 restrictions introduced by the government.

Earlier this month, with no clear indication from the health authorities when contact sports like football could return, the MFA decided to prematurely terminate all its leagues.

The Premier League had six more matches to go and Floriana FC were leading the table, three points ahead of eternal rivals Valletta FC.

On Monday, the MFA council, made up of all member clubs and associations, voted to declare the respective league leaders as winners. The council also voted against the relegation of any team.

The decisions meant that Floriana FC were declared Malta champions for the 2019/2020 season and from next season the Premier and First Division leagues will be composed of 16 teams.

The decisions have stoked controversy with Valletta FC President Victor Sciriha going as far as calling for Vassallo’s resignation. Sciriha had insisted that if the league could not terminate naturally because of health restrictions it should be declared null and void.

In a press conference today, Vassallo, flanked by the association’s vice presidents, secretary-general and treasurer, insisted he had “no regrets” over the decisions because everything was done according to "sporting justice".

Vassallo said the premature termination of the leagues was something no one could have ever foreseen.

The statute has no reference as to what happens in such a situation but provides for force majeure decisions to be taken by the council and not the executive.

Vassallo said making the league null was not an option and the final decision reflected sporting merit up to the point the competitions were terminated.

He said the top two tier competitions will return to 14 teams each over two seasons.

“I received a lot of criticism, some of it very harsh, which is not a problem, but I also received many messages of support,” Vassallo said when asked about the criticism directed towards the MFA officials.

Vassallo said any club feeling aggrieved by the decision can take the matter up with the court of sport arbitration in Switzerland. Clubs are prohibited by association membership rules from opening civil court proceedings.