MFA Council discusses new safeguarding policy

The Malta Football Association discussed a new policy and proposed regulations governing the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in football. The policy has been drafted by Andrew Azzopardi, the MFA Safeguarding Officer who delivered a detailed presentation on the subject to the MFA Council Members on Thursday.

“The wellbeing of the child is of paramount importance for the MFA,” Mr Azzopardi said in his introduction.

“The aim of these Safeguarding Regulations is to promote a positive sporting environment for our children.”

The proposed safeguarding policy is based on four pillars, namely: safe recruitment; policy and training; taking appropriate action when the need arises; and creating space for victims to come forward.

The guidelines stipulate that all persons holding a position of trust (paid or voluntary) must go through a screening process aimed at safeguarding everyone involved in football.

In line with its commitment to prevent all forms of child abuse and poor practice, the proposed regulations would empower the MFA to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

“This would be a separate process from the established disciplinary mechanisms as the two processes will tackle different matters,” Mr Azzopardi said.

“While the traditional disciplinary process seeks to establish whether a person has breached MFA regulations, the safeguarding exercise would assess potential risk to children and vulnerable adults.”

To this end, a new Safeguarding Board would be set up to look into any cases of concern as reported to the Safeguarding Officer. It is being proposed that all the members of the Board would have experience in child protection.

The Panel would have the authority to issue any order as it may deem fit, be it on a provisional or permanent basis. Any sanctions can be appealed through the designated process.

The MFA will also continue to work closely with the police and child welfare agencies, where relevant, to protect children and vulnerable adults.

Identity Malta service at MFA offices well received

The joint efforts of the Malta Football Association (MFA) and Identity Malta to facilitate the process for the application of work permits for non-EU players are yielding the desired results.

The newly-adopted practice whereby representatives of Identity Malta visit the MFA offices once a week to handle work-permit applications has made this erstwhile time-consuming process a lot quicker and more efficient.

Dr Angelo Chetcuti, the MFA General Secretary, conveyed the Association’s gratitude and appreciation for the co-operation and assistance of Identity Malta, adding that their understanding of the specific needs of football clubs and players when applying for a work permit has played a crucial role in this positive development which has been well received by all.

The new service provided by Identity Malta personnel at the MFA offices in the Millennium Stand of the National Stadium was introduced earlier this month and will continue until the end of the January transfer window.

Dr Chetcuti said the feedback from all the relevant parties, especially the clubs and players, has been very encouraging.

“On behalf of the MFA and the entire footballing family, I would like to publicly thank Identity Malta for their co-operation and valuable assistance,” Dr Chetcuti said at today’s MFA Council meeting at the Centenary Hall.

Meanwhile the MFA has taken steps to further strengthen its administration with the appointment of six directors. These are Joe Cassar (International Department, Events and Hospitality), Kevin Azzopardi (Communications), Emmanuel Cassar (Business Development), Norman Saliba (Commercial and Marketing), Robert Gatt (Technical Centre) and Kevin Azzopardi (Refereeing).