The dramatic walkout was triggered by the OFA's decision to call off an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), which was originally scheduled for Saturday.
A total of 12 clubs (out of the affiliated 43) had last month wanted an EGM, with the aim of seeking a no-confidence motion against the OFA's board, which is headed by chairman Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy, over various issues.
However, two days before Saturday's scheduled EGM, to which the OFA had initially agreed, the national association shelved the summit, citing a letter from the FIFA, football’s world governing body.
The FIFA said the EGM could not be held as only ten clubs had called for the EGM - falling below the minimum quorum of 11 clubs required to make such a demand. Two of the 12 protesting clubs withdrew their demand after initially signing the letter seeking an EGM.
Al Hamra and Al Salam had pulled out of the protest in the run-up to the scheduled EGM, which meant there was a lack of quorum under article 2.28 of the FIFA's statutes.
With the EGM cancelled as per the FIFA’s regulations, the OFA then decided to hold a consultative meeting with all the clubs on Saturday, which was attended by 39 clubs.
At that meeting, the proceedings turned all but cordial as the protesting clubs charged that the OFA had wrongfully cancelled the EGM despite having called it.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting clubs after the walkout, Sheikh Saif al Khalili, Bausher Club’s president, told Muscat Daily on Saturday, “I, too, received a letter from the FIFA in which it said that this [EGM] is an internal matter
between the clubs and the OFA. However, on Thursday, the OFA released another letter from the FIFA, saying that there would not be an EGM due to a lack of quorum.”
Khalili added, “I think the OFA was wrong to call off the EGM after having agreed to it and sending out an official letter to all the clubs. It shouldn't have mattered whether any of the 12 protesting clubs had withdrawn its request, after the EGM date was announced. In fact, Al Salam is still with us and the club has denied sending a request to withdraw, which is contrary to what the OFA has claimed.
“The OFA has cited another letter sent by Al Salam's vice-chairman and a few of its board members, seeking the withdrawal of the club's request for the EGM. This is unfair. Why is the OFA chief and the board scared of an EGM? They knew that they would be exposed if the EGM had taken place.”
The ten clubs that made their displeasure felt to the OFA at Saturday's consultative meeting and staged the walkout are Bausher, Seeb, Dhofar, Fanja, Musannah, Jaalan, Rustaq, Bidiya, Al Salam and Al Kamil W'al Wafi.
Khalili said the protesting clubs have now called for another EGM on March 17.
The dissident clubs have charged the OFA with ‘failing to deliver on agreements’ signed between the association and the clubs at previous Annual General Meetings (AGMs). The clubs have also alleged ‘financial irregularities’ and said there has been an ‘overall failure of the OFA as an organisation, on and off the pitch’.
Reacting to the call for an EGM on March 17, Sultan al Zadjali, the OFA's general secretary, said, “It is for the OFA to decide when to call an EGM and not the clubs. We have received a letter in which the clubs have called for an EGM. We will decide on it over the next couple of days.”
Zadjali said 'it was unfortunate that the crisis has not been resolved even after the OFA’s best attempts to be transparent and address the issues raised by the 12 clubs'.
Zadjali said, “Even today, despite the exit of the ten clubs, Sayyid Khalid addressed the concerns that were raised by them. He explained the OFA's stance on each and every issue. The majority of the clubs that attended today's meeting - 25 out of 29 - expressed their full support to the current OFA board. Two clubs expressed their protest and the other two abstained from giving the OFA board their support after the walkout happened.
“We would like this chapter to end as it is hurting the development of football in the country. We are all for transparency. We could have called off the meeting today as the FIFA clearly said that a lack of quorum meant there can be no EGM. But Sayyid Khalid was still keen to discuss the issues, hence we held the consultative meeting. Unfortunately, the clubs walked out without
waiting to hear him out.”
“We were not against the EGM, but as it requires a FIFA observer, we sent the details to the world body seeking an observer. They, in turn, replied that as there is a lack of quorum, the EGM cannot take place. We were willing to address the issues raised by the clubs,” he said.
The top OFA official said that the financial health of the association is much better than it had ben in the past as there was no deficit budget in 2014.
Zadjali claimed that 'proper management has led to a decrease in 40 per cent of the total liabilities' of the OFA.
He added, “I hope we can soon move forward and we welcome those clubs to come on board and contribute to the growth of football in Oman.”
Since Sayyid Khalid took over as the OFA chairman for a second term in 2012, this was the second time that an EGM had been called upon before a response from the FIFA cancelled it.