Winston Lee steps down as FAS general-secretary after a decade

Winston Lee is stepping down as Football Association of Singapore (FAS) general-secretary after a decade on the job.

Lee, who has been with the FAS for 18 years in various positions, will leave the organisation on Dec. 31.

"I had earlier in the year decided that it was time for me to commence the next chapter of my life journey," Lee said via a FAS statement.

"I was humbled by [new FAS] president Lim Kia Tong's request for me to stay on and support the new council, and I agreed.

"Following the conclusion of the season and also in view of the fact that the council has finalised a good set of plans which will bring football to the next level, I decided it is timely to spend more time with my ageing mother and start the next chapter of my life."

The news comes after Lee represented Singapore at Wednesday night's AFC Annual Awards where the FAS received an accolade for its grassroots' development efforts.

The 53-year-old steadily rose through the ranks after joining FAS in 1999 as its director of marketing and communications and earned a number of high-profile appointments over the years.

In 2004, Lee was made marketing instructor by world governing body FIFA and conducted seminars across three different continents.

The following year, he was appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the S.League. In April 2008, he took up the general secretary role, but continued as S.League CEO till 2011.

In 2015, Lee was appointed as one of the five vice-presidents of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Earlier this week at the inaugural FAS Nite, he was recognised with a Long Service award (Staff).

"On behalf of the football community, I want to place on record our sincere appreciation and gratitude to Winston for his unwavering commitment and accomplishments over the years," commented FAS president Lim Kia Tong.

"We wish Winston well in his new endeavours and we will explore ways to utilise his expertise and experience which will only strengthen our ongoing journey towards becoming a strong football nation."

Despite the glowing appraisal, not everyone in Singapore football was a fan of Lee.

The administrator took flak, along with former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and former S.League CEO Lim Chin, for the decline of the sport in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Singapore national team have suffered successive group-stage exits in the regional AFF Suzuki Cup, while the Under-23s have also failed to progress into the knockout stages in the last two Southeast Asia (SEA) Games.

Some say their decision to send a developmental team in the form of LionsXII to participate in Malaysian competitions from 2012 to 2015 meant the S.League suffered in crowd numbers and popularity.

Lee was also embroiled in controversy in March as he and three others -- Hougang United chairman Bill Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong and Zainudin -- were questioned by Singapore authorities after a police report was lodged by Sport Singapore over the suspected misuse of funds at National Football League (NFL) Division One side Tiong Bahru United.

Yazeen Buhari, the deputy general secretary of FAS, will assume Lee's responsibilities as acting general secretary, from Jan. 1 onwards, with a permanent appointment to be announced in the New Year.