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LCQ13: Project Phoenix

     Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (February 12):

     To support Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) in reforming and implementing its long-term development plan, the Government has, since 2011, provided funding to HKFA for implementing a three-year project - Project Phoenix (the Project). However, incidents of suspected manipulation of the results of the Hong Kong First Division League have been uncovered recently. Regarding the development of football in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the respective aggregate expenditures of various programmes under the Project up to the present; of the objectives of the Project and how the programmes have been implemented at present; whether the authorities and HKFA have formulated follow-up plans on those programmes which have fallen short of the targets; if they have, of the details; if not, whether they will do so immediately; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) whether the authorities and HKFA will conduct a comprehensive review of the Project after its completion in September this year; if they will not, of the reasons for that; if they will, the specific plan for and timetable of the review, and whether they will make public the review report; if they will not make public the report, of the reasons for that;

(3) whether the authorities will continue to allocate resources and take specific measures to support the football development in Hong Kong after the completion of the Project; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) whether it will, in response to the recent incidents of suspected manipulation of the results of football matches, adjust its policies for supporting football development; if it will, of the specific direction of adjustment and details of the policies concerned; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities and HKFA will take measures to strengthen the confidence of various stakeholders on football development in Hong Kong; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(5) as it has been reported that the authorities have once proposed to organise a "Chief Executive's Cup" Football Tournament, whether the plan has been shelved; if so, of the reasons for that; if not, the benefits expected from such Tournament to football development in Hong Kong, and the current progress of the preparatory work for the Tournament?



     The Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) commissioned a consultancy study in 2009 to review the position of football in Hong Kong and to recommend viable options for the development of the sport locally. To take forward the recommendations made by the consultant, the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) appointed a Change Agent in October 2010 to formulate a football development strategy, entitled Project Phoenix, to help the HKFA in the areas of governance structure, development strategy and business planning.

     The Sports Commission endorsed a proposal in October 2011 to earmark $20 million annually over a period of three years from 2011-12 onwards for allocation to the HKFA to implement the recommendations made under Project Phoenix. The funding cycle for Project Phoenix commenced in November 2011. The HKFA is required to submit to the Football Task Force (FTF) a proposal on the use of funding each year. FTF examines these proposals and makes recommendations on the allocation of funding, which must be applied to the agreed programmes for implementing Project Phoenix. The HKFA may also submit funding applications to the FTF whenever the need arises.

     My reply to the respective parts of the question is as follows:

(1) As at the end of January 2014, the funding allocated from HAB to help cover the expenditure incurred by the HKFA in the implementation of Project Phoenix is as follows:

Staff costs related to Project Phoenix $27.92 million
Commissioning of consultancy services   $1.80 million
Administrative consultancy services     $1.32 million
Legal advisory services                 $0.46 million
Total                                  $31.50 million

     Funding is released to the HKFA in instalments on a quarterly basis upon HAB's scrutiny of the relevant documentary proof furnished by the HKFA for the approved programmes.

     The Change Agent's report made 33 recommendations have on the direction of football development and the operation of the HKFA.  Of these recommendations, 22 have been completed by the HKFA so far. The remaining 11 are either on-going or underway. For example, the Premier League will be launched in the 2014/15 football season. The completed and on-going recommendations include the approval of a new constitution, the adoption of a new board structure and the reorganisation of the administrative structure. Over the past two years, the HKFA's efforts have led to improvements in areas such as youth development, coach education, the development of women's football, the training of referees, and the management and training of the Hong Kong representative teams.

     The HKFA regularly reports to the FTF on the progress of various recommendations made under Project Phoenix. Where recommended action has fallen behind schedule, the HKFA gives explanations and revises the timetable taking into account the actual circumstances. The FTF reviews the reports submitted by the HKFA in order to understand the issues in question and monitor the progress of implementing relevant measures, and assists the HKFA as appropriate.  

(2) The FTF is closely monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of Project Phoenix. We plan to review fully the effectiveness of Project Phoenix before the conclusion of the three-year funding cycle, and report to the public on the result of the review.

(3) In taking forward the aforesaid review, the FTF will consider factors such as the progress of local football development, the way forward as well as the overall availability of funds, and make recommendations as to whether and how to sustain support for football development in Hong Kong.

(4) The recent incidents of suspected manipulation of the results of football matches are absolutely unacceptable. The HAB supports the Independent Commission Against Corruption's (ICAC) rigorous investigation into such incidents in a bid to eradicate unscrupulous practices in football. We note that the HKFA has set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the incidents and will fully cooperate with the ICAC on the investigations. We consider that the action taken by the HKFA has demonstrated its determination to uphold the fairness and integrity of local football.

     Whether in Hong Kong or in any other parts of the world, corruption has been a serious threat to fairness and integrity in the football sector. Last year, the Chief Executive Officer of the HKFA attended a conference held by the Asian Football Confederation and the Interpol in Kuala Lumpur, where he exchanged views with other regions on issues concerning anti-corruption and match-fixing. In the long run, the HKFA considers that reforming local football, in particular by taking forward recommendations in Project Phoenix such as organising a highly transparent and well-governed local professional football league, will be conducive to further combating corruption.

(5) The HAB has not made any proposal to organise a "Chief Executive's Cup" football tournament.

Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:20


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