After Joseph Muscat lost his bid to get a top European Union post in 2019, Muscat began working on his future career in Maltese football. Muscat had already promised he would not do a third term as Prime Minister, only that he didn’t forecast Yorgen Fenech’s arrest in November and the eventual political fall-out. Muscat didn’t manage to fully achieve his plans for Maltese football as Prime Minister but he had already used his power of incumbency to make preparations for this eventual carer trajectory.
As Prime Minister, Muscat successfully installed his ally, Bjorn Vassallo as head of the Malta Football Association who then went on to prepare Muscat’s way into Maltese football. Back then Formosa contested the post against Chris Bonnet, today Labour MP and Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds. The man standing next to Bjorn Vassallo in the TMI photo is Rodney Vassallo, his cousin and a previous ONE cameraman.
When Bjorn Vassallo contested the presidency of the MFA, he promised MFA members that he was going to build a Maltese team which would play in the Italian Leg Pro Serie C. What Bjorn Vassallo didn’t tell other MFA members that this was actually Joseph Muscat’s idea. Muscat also promised Bjorn verbally that he would commit €10 million in government funds for the project and after having lost his bid for a top EU post, Muscat planned to lead this project himself after resigning from the premiership. Bjorn Vassallo had never disclosed publicly these negotiations with Joseph Muscat and Muscat made these plans with Bjorn Vassallo before Yorgen Fenech was arrested, but they were reported only a couple of months before he handed power to his successor, Robert Abela.
Recently, Joseph Muscat was elected as President of the Malta professional Football Clubs Association. He is not going to stop there. Muscat’s foray into football is only beginning. Jesmond Abela “Il-Hutch”, Hibernians FC team manager and Joseph Portelli, the Gozitan magnate and Ħamrun FC President are campaigning to elect Joseph Muscat as MFA President for next year. Yet, Muscat has already successfully entrenched his allies in the MFA. MFA Vice-President, Matthew Paris is the legal partner of Luke Dalli who is now serving as legal counsel to the MFA. Do you remember Trustin Farrugia Cann, the guy who was appointed CEO of Transport Malta and Infrastructure, but resigned immediately later? Apparently, he is a strong support of Joseph Muscat in MFA circles. Ishmael Barbara the son of Joseph Muscat’s most trusted assistant, Ray Barbara, happens to be another referee who is backing Muscat in the football scene. Then there is Jason Micallef who is chairman of MFA’s media arm Sports Plus. MFA’s communications manager is Pamela Schembri who was previously the communications assistant to Chris Agius Il-Wefi, previous junior minister in charge of the Lands Department and avid Joseph Muscat supporter. One of Muscat’s strongest supporters in the football scene is Hibernians FC team manager Jesmond Abela, Il-Hutch. Jesmond Abela’s daughter is in a senior management position at the Lands Department.
There is much more to this story and there is much more that journalists can find out. Muscat’s foray into football is his new way of entrenching his power, rehabilitating his image and making a strong comeback to the public fore.