Watch: ‘Everyone who wants to help local football is welcome’; Muscat not excluded post-political life

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Malta Football Association president Bjorn Vassallo did not exclude Joseph Muscat’s involvement in a Maltese team to compete in the Italian Serie C after he ends his political career. Speaking to the media, Vassallo said that the MFA’s rules prohibit MPs from occupying a role within the association. However, when asked specifically if Muscat is excluded from the project if he resigns as member of parliament, Vassallo replied that “everyone who wants to help local football is welcome”.

Fielding questions from the press after a meeting held between Prime Minister Robert Abela and the Malta Football Association, Vassallo said that the MFA rules excluded MPs from the association.

Pressed further by, Vassallo was asked whether he had met Muscat not in his official capacity and whether he excluded that Muscat would be involved in the project after he is no longer a member of parliament.

The MFA president replied that the two met once where they spoke about a number of issues. He explained that they had to discuss a number of issues and in which the MFA president took stock of the previous discussions which were held.

When asked whether Muscat’s involvement would be excluded if he had to retire from politics, Vassallo said that “I welcome with open arms those who are willing to help in local football and who fall within our regulations. The most important thing is transparency and accountability.”

During his farewell speech, disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had said that many had asked him what he would do next. He had remarked that he had dedicated his life to the politics in order to give the party a “winning generation”. He then proceeded to state that he would remain although he would take a minor role, saying that he would not see him in public a lot.

“My political effort will continue for some time; after that I will be involving myself in two sectors,” Muscat had said. The two areas mentioned were civil rights and sports. He spoke about a project which would have “national pride” as its aim and would give youths new opportunities abroad.

Video: Facebook / Partit Laburista

Vassallo explained to that back in December 2018, then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had said that all those sports associations willing to present a concise strategy which will lead to eventual results even on the international sphere, the government would be willing to consider it. In June 2019, Vassallo had put forward a 8-year plan for local football. This proposal was voted upon during the Association’s annual general meeting leading to Vassallo’s election as president.

The vision which includes a technical overhaul, will be turned into a strategy for Malta Football Association. The technical overhaul includes a professional team which will be playing professionally in the Italian league.

In October, the Government had publicly informed that it would involve itself with the MFA’s strategy which includes this professional team.

“I think if we want to move forward in the sports sector, we should allow associations like the MFA, carry out its work. The MFA leaves a social impact on the country,” Vassallo said. He added that: ‘I’m convinced that if the country wants that feel good factor by playing at this level and it achieves results, it can do so through this 8-year plan which includes this project”.

“The result will be for the whole country, irrespective of one’s love for football or beliefs. Football unites,” Vassallo said. “Football is capable of limiting all the hate that exists in the country,” he remarked.

After the meeting between Prime Minister Abela and MFA took place, Abela told the press that he will not get involved in decisions which should be taken by Malta Football Association. “These are decisions for MFA to take and as a government we will not interfere in such decisions” Abela told the press when asked about concerning his predecessor’s future in the project.

When asked about the government’s role and whether the government is paying for the project, Abela replied that such issues have not been decided yet. Asked whether the government had previously committed to the project, Abela replied “no decisions were taken”.

“Let’s not have a battle against sports. I think sports is crucial in our country. As a government we have the duty to promote sport activities. Things will be done in a transparent manner,” Abela told the press.

Video: Miguela Xuereb