President’s Address to the first MFA Council Meeting for Season 2013/14

Saturday, August 3, 2013, 10:12

First of all I would like to thank all of you who, a few days ago, renewed your trust in my leadership with what, for me, was an overwhelming vote of confidence in the whole MFA administration under my Presidency. Elections are divisive but they are also necessary, and once the result is announced, I believe that we should put aside any differences that may exist between us and work together for the common good. The closer we are together, the stronger we will be.

Three years ago you trusted me with the Presidency, and a few days ago you renewed your trust for the next three years. During the first 3 years we focused completely on the infrastructure at club level and although we will continue to invest in Club infrastructure, I strongly believe that the next term will coincide with a crucial time in world economic history – the need for good and strong management will never be greater. Forceful and determined leadership at club level is, in my opinion, the greatest priority and the first step towards securing a better future for our football. Things have changed so much that it is no longer about ‘thinking outside the box’ – now there is no box !!

To meet the challenges ahead I believe that we need to ‘agree’ on where we are,where we would like to be in 3 year’s time, and how we are going to get there – and just as in football, we need a game plan which I would like to propose to you,which plan is based on 3 important factors::

a) Agreed strategy – we need to reconcile our ‘growth and sustainability’ goals and make sure we are all on the same page regarding the changes that we need to make for the good and benefit of the game. This includes, amongst others, the long overdue revision of our statute and regulations that will ensure that both the administration and the clubs will operate in a more efficient and cost effective manner;

b) Engagement – to turn our ideas and agreed goals into action, we have to involve and engage everyone who forms part of the football family – in my opinion this includes MFA employees, clubs, coaches, players, players’ union, referees, sporting public, spectators, media, Government, private enterprise, banks and financial institutions, UEFA and FIFA – we need to engage everyone !!

c) Communication – to engage we need to communicate, and to communicate we need to first listen, then understand and then address. In the business world, effective communication is about changing behaviours – communication turns strategy into action. In the football world I think that things get a bit more difficult and complicated – because football is a game of passion and high emotion, and history has taught me that what applies in the business world does not always apply in the football world. And here, I believe, lies our challenge – to reconcile business talk with football talk. To communicate in football we need to use ‘football language’ – the language of emotion, and ‘translate it’ so that it will also make sense in a business world.

That is what financial fair play is all about – applying basic business sense to football decision making. I recently read an article in a UEFA magazine or website which asked the question “ Can logic ever rhyme with passion?”- interesting question !! I am not sure of the answer, but I believe that logic and passion can be reconciled, and if you are behind me in this, we will make it happen.

Before I conclude I would like to take this opportunity to renew my commitment to our campaign against the negative aspects that threaten us – the lack of respect towards the game we all love so much, with specific reference to the behaviour of those who are irresponsible and tarnish the game for their own selfish agendas. I am aware that this is not a problem that can be fixed overnight, and I am also aware that in the short term our enemies may appear to be winning, but I strongly believe, that, as history has taught me, the GOOD will ALWAYS triumph, and that in the longer term, I have no doubt that we WILL win the war against racism and match-fixing in football. We will work to ensure that Racism in our stadiums will be eradicated and that people involved in Maltese match-fixing will be hunted down and snared out of their dirt holes. If anybody, Maltese or foreign, thinks that we are going to remain passive and inactive whilst they try to destroy what has taken us a hundred years to achieve, then they are grossly underestimating the resolve of this administration. Our warning is simple and clear – “Our football is not your whore – hands off and clear off .”

I believe that in the long term education is one of the key elements to winning this battle, but we will also need to work hard, and lead by example – from the very front. This is another area where strategy, engagement and communication can combine together to deal effectively with whatever puts our game at risk.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, I am very positive about the future – we are working on new ideas, new opportunities and new ‘dreams’ and within the coming months, all will be explained. At this point all I ask is the continuation of the trust and support that you have given me in the past, which support has motivated me to keep trying to raise the bar for our Association, our member clubs and everyone who feels part of our football family.

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