The Report of Activities of the Association for the year 2015/16 was approved during the MFA’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday.
General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo said that one of the main highlights of the past season was the Players’ Status reform which thanks the Social Dialogue promoted by UEFA and the courage of the member clubs and associations, the regulations were changed and based on rights which safeguard all stakeholders. In the coming months, another important reform will be that related to the licencing of nurseries. Together with other reforms which were carried out earlier, this will improve good governance which would lead to the better management of member clubs.
Vassallo went on to say that what many had argued that the increase in the number of foreigners to seven players will harm the local players proved wrong as although there were 43.5% of foreign players in the Premier League, overall the percentage was of just 19.5%. He said thanks to the increase in the number of foreigners, the local players found bigger challenges throughout the season which enabled them to improve and eventually the recent results in UEFA competitions proved this further.
As regards the financial aspect, the MFA General Secretary said that many had argued that the Financial Fair Play regulations were too harsh on clubs but this proved otherwise as the number of prohibitions on clubs and cases appearing in front of board decreased meaning that administrators are being much more responsible.
The MFA General Secretary said that legislation on the commercialisation of sports facilities should give clubs a breath of fresh air.
He said that the main pillars of the Darmanin Demajo administration were the infrastructural projects, both at Ta’ Qali and for clubs. The association made substantial investment in the new pitch at the National Stadium, installed new floodlights at the MFA Training Grounds and is hoping to invest further on the pitch of the Centenary Stadium. At the same time, the association keeps in mind the regional stadiums where domestic competitions are held.
With regards to coach education, the MFA Technical Centre was finally awarded the licence to hold the UEFA Pro Licence course with twenty candidates attending the course. The association plans to have a Coach Education Pathway by 2021/22.
At grassroots level, with the collaboration of UEFA, the MFA is working on a new project aimed at reaching far more players at a younger age. Developing better football players through long-term plans should be the main objective.
In domestic competitions, the system were points were halved was abolished after sixteen years and next season would be a transitory season leading to the new format as from season 2017/18.
Attendances for all domestic competitions went up by 6% overall for a total of 183,000, the highest increase over the past five years.
The decision to introduce a new FA Trophy generated interest from the general public, meaning that the general public loves the game.
As regards the national teams, what made news was the fact that after obtaining five points from the first five matches in the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifiers, unfortunately a number of persons tried to fix two matches in March. Vassallo said that unfortunately corruption exists in football, as in all other sectors of society. The association has to work hard to fight match-fixing which ruin the fun of thousands of people who practice the game. He said he is optimistic that by the end of the year the Task Force set-up by the MFA and which includes Police, Malta Gaming Authority, Sport Malta, the government and the opposition would present a National Action Plan would be presented to the Parliament in order to safeguard the sport.
It was a successful season for the Referees Department were local officials controlled matches at all levels of UEFA competitions. For the first time, there was a record seventeen officials on the FIFA list. Thanks to the Academy, the association laid the foundations for the future.