VILNIUS – The parliament on Tuesday agreed to debate a bill to introduce temporary direct management for the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF).
The draft law passed the first reading in the Seimas with 88 votes in favor, 13 against and 21 abstentions. The Committee on Budget and Finance was appointed as the lead committee on the matter.
FIFA and UEFA have warned that Lithuania's national teams and football clubs may face suspension from tournaments organized by the international football organizations if the parliament adopts the law.
According to Mykolas Majauskas, chairman of the Committee on Budget and Finance, the proposed temporary legal regulation is not aimed at taking control of the federation.
"Our aim is not to play football for them," the MP said while presenting the bill to the parliament.
"We simply want to ensure that there are transparent and democratic elections, where the broad football community has a voice, and that top positions are not held by individuals convicted of intentional crimes," he added.
According to Majauskas, the poor results of the national men's football team are "a consequence of the inability to undertake the necessary reforms and to represent the broad football community".
The MP described the LFF as a closed community in which "individuals accused of organizing an armed, criminal association find refuge".
Majauskas was apparently referring to Giedrius Janonis, an alleged leader of an organized crime group known as Kamuoliniai, who had been employed as a project manager by the Lithuanian Amateur Football Association.
Following public criticism, the association announced that it had terminated the employment relationship with him.
"The police commissioner general provided members of the Seimas with a document that revealed that not only four persons (from the LFF Executive Committee) had been convicted of crimes, but also as many as three members of the LFF Executive Committee had been subjected to preventive measures under the Law on the Prevention of Organized Crime," Majauskas said.
Over 80 lawmakers registered the bill on direct management in mid-September.
If it is passed, the federation's current management will lose their positions and a temporary administrator will be appointed by the Education, Science and Sport Ministry to perform the functions of the LFF governing bodies during the period of the law being in force.
The administrator would have to carry out a financial and operational audit of the LFF and, within three months of the law's entry into force, draw up and approve the federation's draft interim statutes, based on the model statutes of international football organizations.
The Seimas' lawyers submitted an opinion that the bill runs counter to the Constitution, but the parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs rejected it on Tuesday.