MFA Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Vassallo said the UEFA Under-17 Championship finals which were held in Malta last May was a good advert for the game and it managed to draw wide participation; players did their best and enjoyed an excellent experience. UEFA was extremely satisfied with the organisation of the event and has now entrusted Malta with the organisation of the Top Executive Programme – a meeting which will be held in September 2015.
Vassallo was speaking during the presentation of the Administrative Report of the Malta Football Association which was then approved in the Annual General Meeting which was held on Tuesday. He spoke mainly on the fight against match-fixing, statute and regulations, the MFA Technical Centre, Referees Department, facilities and the various incentives for clubs and member associations.
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In the fight against match-fixing, the association continued its partnership with Sport Radar, operating live scouts in local matches. The MFA strengthened its position in this battle thanks to the Betting Fraud Detection System reports. An Integrity Tour was held this winter and left a positive impact, especially on the 1,200 players and administrators who attended these seminars. Throughout the season, six cases were investigated by the MFA Prosecutor.
Throughout this year, twelve articles were included or amended by the Council. These included changes in the Registration of Professional Players, Competition Rules, Rules of the National League and the Payment by Transfer Credits. Discussions on the Player Status Regulations covering parameters, salary capping and foreign players are still ongoing. The statute is also in the process of being revised. The new Premier League format was approved following discussions with all stake-holders.
Discussions over the commercialisation of football clubs are still underway with the Government expected to put forward proposals by the end of the year. The Government implemented proposals by the association with regards to tax rates for footballers during the Budget. The association will work to strengthen the fight against match-fixing with the set-up of a Task Force including the Government, Police and the Lotteries and Gaming Authority and will also work with the Ministry of Justice with the aim of reviewing the law regarding corruption in sport.
As regards the Technical Centre, the Academy project continued while new training schemes for the senior and Under-21 national teams were adopted. Commercial partners for the national teams were confirmed for the period 2014-16. Ten coaching courses were held by the Coach Education Unit and Malta hosted the UEFA Grassroots Seminar. A total of 70 instructional meetings were approved by the MFA Technical Centre. The Medical and Physiotherapy Clinic is being re-located to new premises at the Millennium Stand. Guide-lines for nurseries ‘Developing Grassroots Football’ were launched. The MFA was active in projects involving Social Responsibility. The game continued to be promoted at various levels as the development of local talent remains a priority.
In the refereeing sector, the Referees’ Academy was further strengthened. Training is being held under the guidance of a professional coach. Referees’ exchanges continued with several countries around Europe and as part of these exchanges, even matches from the lower divisions and Gozo were controlled by foreign referees. Additional Assistant Referees were used in 62 matches. Referees and officers participated in various seminars organised by UEFA and FIFA. In collaboration with the MFRA, another training camp for referees was held in Hungary. The technical sponsor was confirmed while new equipment was bought for referees. There was an increase of 25% in the number of active referees over the past season from 90 to 121.
With regards to infrastructure, a new CCTV system and new electrical distribution system were installed at Ta’ Qali. Works to provide more access at the National Stadium were completed. The Hibernians Stadium and Gozo Stadium were upgraded while works at the Victor Tedesco Stadium are nearing completion. A new hot water generation system was installed at the Centenary Stadium. With regards to clubs’ facilities, more infrastructural projects were completed and the centralised maintenance system for these facilities is being operated. There was an investment of €2.8 million in clubs’ facilities and €600,000 in MFA facilities. An application for a solar farm at Ta’ Qali has been submitted.
The Malta Football Association gave various incentives to clubs and member associations, namely the financing of capital projects and the interest on loan; the financing of venues; the financing of referees’ fees; the provision of good-quality balls for all competitions; financial assistance to cover medical tests for clubs taking part in UEFA competitions; subsidized rates for Clinic Cover Scheme and Medical Tests; services provided through the web portal for member clubs and member associations which is also being extended to nurseries; the Legal Office and the Finance Department which assist the needs of members.