19 June 2011

League stoppage inevitable

Jason Thomas

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
THE FOOTBALL Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) admit their hands are tied.

As much as it would like to finish the local football season, logistics make it next to impossible.

The ex-governing body for the sport in Brunei has been asked by the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) to put a halt to all football competitions it endorses, a ruling which hasn't gone down well with the 19 teams competing in the DST Group Brunei Premier League (BPL).

There are 48 BPL games remaining and NFABD which is internationally recognised has said Fifa has given it until July 27 to end the season or face possible sanctions.

"Logistically speaking, if we could we would continue," FFBD secretary-general Sheikh Noordin Mohammad told The Brunei Times yesterday.

"In the initial fixture we were confident we could be able to finish the league and FA Cup by the end of July.

"But because of venue problems the closure of the Balapan Track & Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex and weather, not to mention the Youth Sports Festival, we had to revamp the fixtures and set the FA Cup for after Hari Raya.

"If you take into account the Youth Sports Festival (which runs from June 11-19) we can only resume the league on June 20, next Monday.

"That gives us only 37 days until July 27, and we have to take into account His Majesty's birthday and the fact that we cannot play on Thursday nights.

"We were asked to cram everything (from June 20-July 27) but that was virtually impossible.

"That's why we had no alternative but to cancel the league. We had a managers' meeting with the majority of the BPL teams last Sunday and I explained our predicament which they all understand," he added.

More shocking than the news of the league's premature end is Sheikh Noordin's revelation that contrary to public opinion, the two associations have yet to sit down and iron out an amicable solution as NFABD had earlier promised.

"In my personal view, I think we could have finished the league games," he said.

"We had thought up of several options to complete the league and I am confident that with these options we could have finished the season, but NFABD did not see fit to contact us.

"We were waiting for them to talk to us ... But there is no point talking about the options now.

"Officially or unofficially, we have had no correspondence with NFABD, and I just want to express sadness and regret that it has come to this," he added, stressing he was not speaking on behalf of FFBD.

Sadness and regret is something that the nine BPL I teams that have gone through half the season and the 10 BPL II teams which have only played five games should be all too familiar with now.

They have dozens of players who are disappointed that this season's campaign could not be finished and that they have nothing to show for all their hard work and dedication.

When asked whether the DST Group BPL I trophy would be awarded to leaders the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB), who are six points ahead of AM Gunners FC, Sheikh Noordin insisted it was not up to FFBD to decide.

"We have not decided formally what to do with the trophies (DST Group BPL I, II and FA Cup). We can't commit ourselves to anything yet and we will make an announcement once we have made a decision," he said.

"We do have a contractual obligation with DST Group and we hope and trust that they they will be able to understand our predicament in the same way the clubs have.

"We have yet to have formal discussions with DST Group and I am only able to do so tomorrow (today) morning.

"That's why in our statement released earlier we only decided in principle not to proceed with the remaining DST Group Brunei League and DST Group Brunei FA Cup matches, so we have to see what the sponsors say.

"The money that the sponsors have given us to run the league is one of the issues we have to discuss with them.

"Everything we do is subject to the consent of DST Group, who have been helping Brunei football since 2003," he added.

He said that one of the teams during last Sunday's meeting asked whether they could be compensated since they have made preparations for the whole season, and the secretary-general assured The Brunei Times that this was under consideration.

The 23-match FA Cup was another question that was brought up in the meeting but since NFABD's press release stated it only allowed accommodation for the league, the cup tournament looks to be a no-go.The Brunei Times

BPL teams disappointed

Jason Thomas

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
IT IS A hard pill to swallow.

The Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) yesterday announced it has decided in principle not to proceed with the remaining DST Group Brunei League and DST Group Brunei FA Cup matches, a move which has come as somewhat of a surprise to football stakeholders.

The decision was made in light of a Press statement issued by the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) last week, which citing Article 13 of the Fifa Statute, warned of international sanctions for the country if FFBD-organised tournaments were not ended by July 27.

The second half of the nine-team DST Group BPL I season has yet to start while the 10-side BPL II campaign is only five games in.

The most to lose from FFBD's decision is DST Group BPL I leaders the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB).

"It's a disappointment for the players to be six points clear at the top with a superior goal difference and looking comfortable as well," said MS ABDB coach Steve Rule.

"They are not training now and have returned to their units. Maybe there's a silver lining to this in a funny kind of way because they can concentrate on their career development now.

"The team will regroup whenever the league starts again and when that happens we will just have to go out, do it all over again and rise to the challenge," added Rule, whose team are undefeated in the league and have picked up 22 points from eight games.

Second in the league are AM Gunners FC, whose manager shared Rule's sentiments.

"It's very disappointing that these two associations can't work things out," said Hj Ahmad Hj Husin.

"The league has been good and if you look at it a lot of young talent has been coming out and they are the future of Brunei football," added the manager.

The only team who have won anything all season, the DST Group Brunei League Cup earlier this month, Majra FC are still basking in the glory of their first trophy since they were founded in 2003.

Though they said they were alright with the decision, Majra who lie third with 14 points are already looking to the future.

"We understand and accept the ruling and we just want to say thank you to FFBD for organising the league over the past two and a half years," said Hj Mahaddi Hj Mat Zain during an interview.

"Without them we would never have tasted success and see our young players develop.

"To NFABD, they have to fulfill their responsibility and prove themselves by organising a league as soon as possible," he added.The Brunei Times

FFBD-organised competitions to be discontinued

Jason Thomas

Friday, June 10, 2011

THE National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) wants a stop to all football competitions organised by the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD).

The country's only football association recognised by Fifa, NFABD yesterday warned that the Sultanate could be in trouble if it doesn't follow Fifa's rules.

It issued a statement pointing out that "violating 'Members' Obligatons' as per Article 13 of Fifa Statute (August 2010 edition), may lead to sanctions by Fifa".

The good news, though, is that the leagues can continue until the end of next month.

" ... the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) is a full member of Fifa and strictly governed by the NFABD Statute, which is fully in compliance with Fifa Statutes," said the statement sent by NFABD president Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Mohiddin.

"Therefore, all football competitions endorsed and organised by the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) must be stopped and discontinued immediately, as per initial directive from Fifa and AFC representatives who were here in Brunei Darussalam recently.

"Failure to adhere to this directives, NFABD may face severe consequences for violating its obligations.

"However, in the interest of the players and of football in general, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the honorary president of NFABD, has appealed to Fifa and AFC representatives to allow the DST Group Brunei Premier League 2011 to continue until the current season end, of which they agreed.

"To avoid any undesirable consequences, NFABD, guided by its Statute, respectfully requests the organiser of DST Group Brunei Premier League 2011 to end its current season not later than Wednesday, 27 July 2011.

"Under the current NFABD Statute, Article 75, NFABD, as the football national body, would organise and coordinate the following official football competitions in the country; National League, League Cup, Futsal League, Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (lead agency is the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports) and other tournament(s) as decided by the NFABD Executive Committee," added the statement.

The Press release made no specific mention of age-group competitions.

FFBD's emphasis on grassroots football is evident in the fact that after already organising Under-14 and Under-16 leagues, it started the Under-10 and Under-12 competitions this year.

The Under-12 league kicked off last Sunday while the Under-10 competition is set to start this Sunday.

The question of what will happen to the money that DST Group has invested in this season, $145,000, is also up in the air.

The telecommunications giant took on the role of title sponsor during the 2005/06 season and has been committed to the sport's development ever since.

It has been active contributor to the sport since the 2003/04 season, when the country's biggest football tournament was still known as the Brunei League (B-League).

Calls to FFBD president Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar and its secretary-general Sheikh Nordin Sheikh Mohamad were not entertained as of Press time.The Brunei Times

Fifa official tells NFABD: Brunei has a lot of work to do

Jason Thomas

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
PRIMO Corvaro (pic) wants Bruneians to know everything is just getting started.

Fifa's manager of member associations was in town with two other international football officials to observe a historic moment in Brunei football yesterday morning's National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) elections.

Later in the afternoon his colleague, Fifa development officer Domeka Garamendi, signed over the keys to NFABD's new headquarters along Jalan Pusat Persidangan to the association's newly-elected president, Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Mohiddin.

The crowd gathered at the spanking new US$1.6 million facility near the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex was in a celebratory mood and rightly so after last week's news that Fifa has lifted its suspension on Brunei.

But Corvaro was quick to remind the country that it has just taken the first step back on the long road to football glory, going on to outline several moves NFABD will be wise to look into.

"The elections were run smoothy and now the first thing NFABD has to do is appoint a secretary-general," he told The Brunei Times.

"It is important because the secretary-general is the one who runs the day-to-day business of the association.

"There also should be seven to eight working committees, where each committee will be made up of a chairman and vice-chairman who are NFABD Executive Committee members.

"Adaptations of regulations such as disciplinary and ethics codes are also key.

"Another important aspect is proper membership. Today (Monday) there were only 25 members from 17 clubs at the elections. Why these 17 clubs? Why not 10? 25?

"I have been told it is because these are the clubs that have been registered under the Registrar of Societies (RoS) but that is not a criteria.

"It should be the association (NFABD) that decides who are the members, not the other way around. In other countries the clubs join the association first, and then they register.

"This is not wise. As soon as the RoS decides who can and cannot join, that's already interference.

"Also there has to be a competition set up and internal regulations set out for the league. Regulations like what divisions will be contested? Professional? Amateur?

"There is a lot of work to be done," added the official from Fifa's headquarters in Zurich.The Brunei Times

NFABD elects new leaders

Jason Thomas

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah is NFABD's honorary president

Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Mohiddin elected new president of National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam

DATO Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman Hj Mohiddin knows exactly where his priorities as the newly-elected president of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) lie.

The country's governing body for football held an Extraordinary Congress to elect its Executive Committee yesterday, with the former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs admitting he has a big task ahead of him.

He was voted as the president after being the only name on the ballot, and it is understood that he was sworn in after winning two-third of the vote.

Hj Saiful Bahri Pehin Dato Hj Jaya was elected as his deputy under the same circumstances. There were a total of 20 voters.

As is standard practice, both names were nominated before yesterday's election for the 2011-2015 term.

"First and foremost, what is important is housekeeping ... And then we will look at our short-term strategies,'' said the president after the election at the Empire Hotel & Country Club in Jerudong.

"Of course, it's going to be a bumpy and rough road, but it is one we will walk together,'' added Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman.

The Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) has run various national leagues and age-group competitions since Fifa suspended Brunei in September 2009, but now that the Sultanate is back on the international map, the most pressing issue on many fans' minds is finding out which association will take charge of local football tournaments.

The DST Group Brunei League Cup ended on Sunday, but the DST Group Brunei Premier League I and II are only half-way through, with the DST Group Brunei FA Cup also on the horizon.

Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman assured the competing teams that they have nothing to worry about.

"We will hold discussions with the relevant agencies, be it FFBD or any other parties, with the aim of contributing to the advancement of football in Brunei,'' he said.

"We have not talked to FFBD yet but we will.

"It is not as if the leagues never existed, and I am very sure that whatever we do will be agreed upon amicably.

"Which ever organisaiton we deal with, it should be willing to bring Brunei football forward, and we should be guided by this (principle),'' he added.

Four district football association representatives, one referee representative and five members were also elected yesterday all of whom won their seats after claiming more than 50 per cent of the vote.

The district association and referee representative were was a ntecontests between two entries while the voters chose from a total of 11 names to pick the five members, all of whom are local football stakeholders.

Mohd Isa Hj Marsidi was named from the Brunei-Muara District Football Association, Morni Zakaria from the Belait District Amateur Football Federation, Takong Ahmad from the Tutong District Amateur Football Association and Hj Mohd Zain Hj Awang from the Temburong District Amateur Football Association.

Hj Omar Hj Safar was picked to represent the Brunei Darussalam Football Referees Association.

The five members were Ali Hj Ismail (Cousin FC), Ah Chua Bangau (Temburong District Amateur Football Association), Hj Hamidon Hj Mohd Zain (Brunei Darussalam Football Referees Association), Hj Zainol Ariffin Hj Jumaat (DPMM FC) and Jamhari Lani (Belait District Amateur Football Federation).

The Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) president His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah was instrumental in getting Brunei's suspension lifted by Fifa during their Executive Committee meeting in Zurich last week after being named the head of NFABD's normalisation committee two months ago.

Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Rahman put forth a vote to thank His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah and the rest of the normalisation committee for their hard work by giving them positions as the hononary president and members, an idea which was easily agreed upon.

In his speech at the opening of the election, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah outlined the importance that the members had to play.

"I hope that the candidates who will be chosen are those who really could shoulder the responsibility with full integrity. I urge all of you to work together and to put aside your differences, selfishness and personal interest as this is the only way to bring NFABD to greater heights, not only in terms of creditability, transparency and integrity but also in terms of excellent planning and effective implementation of its development programmes,'' he stated.

"Even though the challenges faced by NFABD especially in this very early stage are huge, with the dedication and commitment of the members of the Executive Committee and with continued support and guidance from Fifa as well as the support given by all football stakeholders in this country, I am confident that NFABD will grow stronger and will be able to move forward successfully (and) stand tall with other established national football associations in this region.

"I urge you to work together as a team, where every member has to play his role effectively ... However, even if we have a team, if the players do not use his skill intelligently, or is selfish, the team as a whole will be weakened. Worse still if the team's leadership is not up to the job,'' he stressed.

At the end of the election His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah took the time to explain how Fifa rescinded its suspension on the country.

"In early April the Fifa Emergency Committee decided to appoint a normalisation committee to bring football in Brunei Darussalam back to normal. I was appointed as its chairman and one of the mandates set forth by the Fifa Emergency Committee was for us to conform to Fifa Statutes,'' he said.

"After a few meetings and consultations with Fifa ... the Statute was adopted at the Extraordinary Congress held at the Empire Hotel & Country Club on April 28. A copy of the minutes and NFABD Statute were sent to Fifa on April 30.

"The other mandate set forth by the Fifa Emergency Committee was to get NFABD registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS). Persuant to this and in line with the decision taken by members during the Extraordinary Congress held on April 28, the application, together with the NFABD Statute, was submitted to RoS accordingly.

"As a result, the NFABD was successfully registered by RoS on May 2, of which Fifa was notified immediately.

"From then on it was all good news from Fifa, including the congratulatory messages from Fifa president (Joseph S Blatter) and secretary-general (Jerome Valcke).

"Consequently, we were invited to attend Fifa's 61st Congress in Zurich from May 31-June 1.

"The lifting of the suspension enforced two and a half years ago was considered during Fifa's Executive Committee meeting on May 30, in which the positive decision was announced by the Fifa president during his Press conference later that afternoon.

"As a result, we are now free to participate in all regional and international football tournaments.

"During my courtesy call to Fifa's president on May 31 at Fifa House in Zurich he expressed his happiness that our membership in Fifa is back to normal. Likewise, I expressed the same thing, thanking him and his officers for their advice and guidance until the NFABD was accepted.

"I also informed President Blatter that I, within my limited capacity, will try to make sure that the NFABD will always be in compliance with its Statute, transparent in its action and full of integrity.

"With regards to NFABD's future, I, as honorary president, will always work together with the Executive Committee in making sure that the NFABD will achieve its noble objectives,'' he added. The Brunei Times

02 June 2011

Singapore still wants DPMM FC in Lion's den

Jason Thomas

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BY NOW any local football fan worth his or her salt should have heard that Fifa has finally lifted its suspension on Brunei.

It was an isolation from international football which started on 30 September 2009 and only ended on Tuesday a good 20 months later.

But what does this mean for the average follower of the beautiful game in the country?

DPMM FC is back in business.

Though it had nothing to do with them, Brunei's only professional club took the brunt of the beating when Fifa first revealed the suspension during its Executive Committee meeting in Brazil two long years ago.

Just months before in June, the side had become the first Bruneian football team in a decade to lift a major piece of silverware the Singapore League Cup while playing in their debut Singapore League (S-League) campaign.

They silenced critics and naysayers alike with a gritty 4-3 penalty shoot-out win against Singapore Armed Forces FC, the result marking them out as the first foreign team to lift a trophy in Singapore football.

They only had five S-League games left in the season but when Fifa announced the suspension, it spelt the end of their fairy-tale.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke sent a letter saying that the club could not play in the S-League, and the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) hands were tied.

The world governing body had earlier given written approval that DPMM FC would be able to play in the 2009 season, so FAS was just as disappointed that the club could not finish what they had started.

But now that Brunei is back on the global stage under the auspices of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), DPMM FC is eyeing a return to competitive football.

"The S-League has always been waiting for DPMM FC," said acting club manager Pg Waslimin PSJ Pg Hj Abd Momin on Tuesday after hearing that the suspension was lifted.

"They hope that we can come back... Will we come back? I'm not sure right now - it's too early to tell.

"I know the club's website says we have a few players coming for trials this month but nothing is confirmed yet, we'll have to wait and see.

"The team has always been training two times a week under coaches Norilham Hj Jais and Hj Zainol Ariffin Hj Jumat," he added.

Getting the players match-fit shouldn't be a problem; the club have 22 players in this season's DST Group Brunei Premier League (BPL).

The players should all be breathing a sigh of relief that they will be able to suit up in the black and red of DPMM FC, putting to bed a nightmare which started in November 2008 when the former ruling body for the sport in the Sultanate, the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa), was deregistered by the Registrar of Societies for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.

DPMM FC had earlier been playing in the Malaysian Super League but was banned in December 2008 by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) after they heard that Bafa was deregistered, initiating a move to the S-League in time for the start of the season in February 2009.

Pg Waslimin was relieved that the club and country can finally start thinking about competitive football again.

"I would like to say thank you to Fifa for lifting the suspension on Brunei," he said.

"Now we have to make full use of this to develop Brunei football and compete (abroad) once again.

"To all the fans, thank you for helping get Brunei back into the international football arena."

The Brunei Times

01 June 2011

Fifa lifts ban on Brunei

Jason Thomas

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FORGET the drama. Forget the controversy. Forget the heart-break. All you need to know is Brunei is back on the map!

Fifa's annual Congress is turning out to be a ship-wreck, and its president is in the news for all the wrong reasons, but that won't matter a bit for Bruneians after the world governing body for the sport finally lifted its suspension on the Sultanate.

"The Fifa Executive Committee, chaired by president Joseph S Blatter, decided to lift the suspensions on the football associations of Bosnia-Herzegovina (FFBH) and Brunei Darussalam (NFABD, formerly Bafa) during its meeting held today, 30 May 2011 (early Tuesday morning in Brunei) at the Home of Fifa in Zurich," states a Press release on Fifa's website yesterday.

"The committee took these decisions after ascertaining that both national associations had fulfilled the conditions established by the Fifa Emergency Committee and approved statutes in line with the Fifa Statutes," it added.

Calls to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich confirmed what is turning out to be the best piece of football related news all year.

"As of now, yes," said a Fifa spokesperson when asked if Brunei is restored with full member privileges.

"They have fulfilled the obligations in Fifa Statutes and conditions defined in previous stages.

"Brunei is back because of the normalisation committee put in place in order to get the association back on track," a Fifa officer from the Media Department, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Brunei Times.

The normalisation committee, chaired by the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, received the thanks due to it yesterday.

"I, and on behalf of the affiliates of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, would like to congratulate the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) for being accepted as a member of Fifa," said BNOC secretary-general Hj Zuraimi Hj Abd Sani in an e-mail yesterday.

"As a result, the suspension enforced by Fifa for the last few years has been lifted today, Monday 30th May 2011.

"Our appreciation and gratitude goes to His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, as chairman of the normalisation committee and his team, who have worked tirelessly with Fifa in implementing the mandates set forth by the Fifa Emergency Committee.

"We wish to express our heartfelt congratulations for the job well done. Once again, congratulations to NFABD and be assured that you are most welcome to be the council's new affiliate," he added.

The e-mail should put to bed a saga which all started when the Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (Bafa) was deregistered from the Registrar of Societies in November 2008 for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.

It was then suspended by Fifa for government interference during its Executive Committee meeting in September 2009, and the suspension which threatened to turn into an expulsion during last June's Congress remained in effect until yesterday.

Though not recognised internationally, the Football Federation of Brunei Darussalam managed to keep the day-to-day running of the sport in order, organising the national leagues as well as several age-group tournaments.

When contacted yesterday its president said that the lifting of the suspension was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come.

"We welcome the news ... let's celebrate the lifting of the suspension," Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Md Jaafar told The Brunei Times.

"We will cooperate with all stakeholders in sorting out the organisation of the domestic league in due course, but the most important thing is that we have returned to the international and regional stage which we should celebrate."The Brunei Times

DPMM back to S-League ?

1/GOOD NEWS for Brunei.NFABD is already a member of FIFA, and suspension is was already lifted on 30th May afternoon and Brunei can play internationally with immediate effect.DPMM can be back on track for the S-League next season.

Players coming for tryouts beginning June,2011

1/Lounes Bendahmane(Algeria)-

2/Daoud Bouabdellah(Algeria)

3/Carlos Mansilla(Chile)-

4/Lisandro Henriquez(Chile)-

5/Andre luis De Souza(Brazil)-16th June

6/Felicien Singbo(Benin)-6th June

7/Hamza Yacef(Algeria)

8/Maxwell Santos Silva(Brazil)

DPMM FC website