Taiwan risk FIFA ban as Association feud continues

Taiwan risk facing a FIFA ban as the Chinese Taipei Football Association row rumbles on 

Taiwanese sports associations have been, and are known to be rife with corruption, graft, bribes, and fraud. These are amongst some of the allegations that have been thrown at Taiwanese sports associations in the Taiwanese press. 

One quick google search of, ‘corruption in Taiwan sports associations’ brings up an endless list of allegations. First result - Universiade Controversy Leads To Calls To Clear Up Corruption, second result - ATTEMPTS BY SPORTING ASSOCIATIONS TO BLOCK REFORM EFFORTS USING FAKE MEMBERS, third result – Is an article by Forbes about FIFA being unable to resolve the CTFA dispute, fourth result - Associations named in the scandal

If you dig deeper instead of just taking the top google search results that are pumped out from your first search then you can find endless reports on all the different kinds of ways that associations in Taiwan run different scams, ways to make profit for themselves from running a sports associations or benefit themselves from running a sports association. 

The sports association corruption has rightly been targeted by the government in an effort to stamp it out by making an effort to make the sports associations more clear and transparent. Obviously, those people already in charge of sports associations fear this is the moment their gravy train grinds to a halt as more transparency makes it harder to hide scams like fake associations. 

With the fear of losing their gravy train income, there has been fierce opposition to the change by certain associations on the island, namely the Chinese Taipei Football Association and the Taiwanese Baseball Association. I don’t know how the baseball governing body looks at these kinds of issues, but FIFA takes a very dim view of such ongoing situations and as it is still dragging on then Taiwan faces the distinct possibility that if the mess is not resolved then they could face being banned from FIFA of all international competitions. 

Why would Taiwan face a ban? 

As the CTFA have so far proved they are incapable of sorting out the mess themselves or having any intentions of following the new government regulations it means that the government could become more involved in the dispute.  The CTFA heavily relies on government funding to run the national team and league, so the government could effectively pull the plug on the funding meaning that the CTFA would struggle financially from then. 

Or the government could take the drastic approach like we have seen in places like Indonesia where they just cancel the league completely. I am not sure how the government managed to do that in Indonesia but it no doubt has a lot to do with funding for the sport from the government. 

FIFA would look at these kinds of actions as government interference and therefore ban Taiwan from all international competitions that are organised as FIFA tournaments like they did recently with Indonesia, and the FIFA ban has been tragic for Indonesia as halted any kind of progress they were making as a developing footballing country. The same crushing hammer blow would halt any progress currently being made by the Taiwan national team.

CTFA chairman Lin Yung-cheng (林湧成) had ultimate control of the CTFA with most of the voting members backing him for re-election however when FIFA came to Taiwan to arbitrate between the two arguing factions they found that six of the 45 voting members were fraudulent. The six fraudulent members were all supposed to be representing different organisations but none of them existed, the false members – two country-level football associations and four different associations representing futsal, young players, coaches and referees – swayed the votes in favour of CTFA chairman Lin. 

No matter if you think the chairman is doing well in his job or not, if he is complicit in the creation of fake associations to ensure he stays in power then he should be booted out. Whether he has good intentions towards Taiwanese football or not, the end doesn’t justify the means, and a man who lies and cheats his way into power doesn’t have the best intentions, to begin with anyway, how could he ever be trusted to do what is in the best interests for Taiwanese football? 

Fake associations can be used in various scams

So you have yourself six fake associations - funnily enough, if you read between the lines – the fake associations that have been created are all in different ‘development’ areas. Two island-wide associations, four different associations representing futsal, young players, coaches and referees.

The reason that the fake associations are made in different development areas is not to make them more realistic, it is because each different strand of development has its own source of funding. So there will be funding for referees, funding for futsal development and funding for referees and coaches. If they were all made into one ‘type’ of association then they wouldn’t be able to apply for different kinds of funding from the likes of FIFA for example. 

Instead of worrying about maintaining his power within the association by creating fake associations maybe Chairman Lin should have actually invested the time and effort to really work on the areas the fake associations were claiming to. 

By working on youth development, coach development the development of futsal and referees I am sure he would have become very popular but instead, he decided upon the easy option of making fake associations to maintain his power. The easy route isn’t always the best route and karma will always catch up with people who want to get into a position of power by cheating there way there. It may happen quickly or it may take an eternity but karma is a bitch as they say. 

The challenge against Chairman Lin 

Now here is where the problem really arises, because I don’t believe the other side is any better than the current incumbent of the CTFA. Each side does not have the development of football in Taiwan as the core reason for wanting to be the chairman of the CTFA. 

The only interest in winning the CTFA chairmanship is self-interest, it’s a vicious circle. The opposition to Chairman Lin has been releasing a certain amount of fake news to Taiwanese media in an attempt to discredit the current CTFA members, but considering the allegations already made against the CTFA by FIFA, it is unnecessary to release fake news. 

So this is where the clear conundrum arises for Taiwanese football, you have one side creating fake associations in an attempt to stay in power while the other side releasing all kinds of fake news to discredit what the CTFA have done well, or what they what the public to think about the CTFA instead of just sticking to the factual information. 

Creation of a professional league and build new stadiums

Now, this gets said often, but I have no clue why anyone in control of Taiwanese football would suggest making the league professional or insist on building new stadiums. There is no need for a professional league like there is no need for new stadiums, and there was no need for the rebranding of the Taiwanese league. 

There is no interest from the general public in Taiwan in watching the Taiwanese Premier League, with all proposed funding for the Taiwanese Premier League going professional coming from government funding. There is no way the government can fund a professional league for any prolonged duration of time, so, therefore, what is the plan on behalf of the CTFA for continuing the process of running a professional league? 

It’s just lip service, they know people involved in football in Taiwan would one day love to have a professional league, so they mention it regularly. At one point they even roped in Xavier Chen into trying to help them create and promote a professional league until they returned to form and fell out with him over his flights from Belgium to Taiwan. 

There is no way a professional football can survive in Taiwan without a paying audience or any kind of league sponsors. The government money will run out very quickly and then when it does there will be no plan in place to make sure the league remains professional if they ever do attempt to go professional in the first place. In Taiwan however, just proposing it is classed as trying to do it so, therefore, it is all good. 

There was some news posted online a while back stating that Taiwan intends to build six new stadiums and some other news about a big football complex in Taichung. Now there are two reasons why these shouldn’t be built, the first is because even though there aren’t many places to currently play matches the league still has enough facilities to function fine. 

The second reason is that no one is actually allowed to use those facilities once they’re built. Therefore if you’re building facilities because Taiwan lacks them, but then when they’re built no one can use them you might as well have stayed having none. Considering the number of times the people involved in the dispute talk about wasting money, then they really need to give their heads a shake over building new stadiums. 

My opinion is that they want to build new stadiums because any kind of construction is a good way of generating under the table cash. And the under the table cash is the big reason for being involved in a sports association here because not much is achieved for the sports. 

What I have to say though, is there is clearly someone currently inside the CTFA who does really want to do well for football in Taiwan. This is clear because of how well certain aspects of association football are being run and have shown improvement, it’s obvious they have meagre resources to run every aspect of football that a football association should be running but fair play to whomever in the association is really trying to push things in the right direction because there must be opposition and resistance to a lot of good ideas. From the news, we are reading it is very difficult being on the outside knowing which side is the ‘good intentioned’ one.

Gary White’s contract

Gary White and his team have been brilliant for Taiwan so far, despite what the news has said about them. Taiwan has had an excellent record under him, he has brought players into the national team that would never have been considered and Taiwan has played more competitive games and competitions than ever before.

We believe a lot of that is down to his effort in insisting on getting the teams to play games, because practice games in Taiwan can only develop you so much, but being thrown into the deep end is really sink or swim time, and a lot of Taiwanese football players have never been able to experience this before. That was until Gary White arrived into the manager’s role.

Now news came out in the South China Morning Post that Gary White and his team are on the verge of taking the Hong Kong job, then news came out a day later insisting that Gary White would rather stay in Taiwan and continue the work he has started, but no one in the CTFA have spoken to him because of the ongoing dispute. So the ongoing dispute if not resolved not only threatens Taiwan with a FIFA ban, but also puts them at risk of losing the best manager they have ever had, and will ever be able to attract to the job for a very long time. 

Lies and deceit make it difficult to find out what is going on

Everything I have spoken about hear has come from the news, and trying to decipher which part of the news I believe to be real and which news I believe to be fake has been quite difficult, but read it, and decipher it, I have attempted to. 

Then I need to decide upon what I believe and don’t believe and the main conclusion I come to is neither side has the best interests of Taiwanese football at the core of their determination to be in control of the CTFA. 

The first intention of both sides engaged in this dispute is personal gain. This is why Taiwanese football will never develop, all sports have huge potential here not only football but until these kinds of leeches who have attached themselves to sports associations on the island are rooted out and punished then the sport will never prosper in Taiwan.

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