November 18, 2019

FIFA fines Caribbean member over finance rules


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fifaFrom T&T Mail

GENEVA (AP) — has fined the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association for financial wrongdoing linked to a development project.

The Caribbean member broke rules by agreeing to mortgage its technical center, which was largely paid for by FIFA, the governing body said Thursday. The has been fined 30,000 Swiss francs ($33,800) and reprimanded by FIFA’s disciplinary panel.

Accounting rules for FIFA spending were tightened as part of anti-corruption reforms following a 2011 election bribery scandal which implicated Caribbean officials, including two from Antigua and Barbuda.

Describing the mortgage deal as an “inadvertent oversight,” the federation said it was needed to help fund the national team’s qualifying matches. “This arrangement with the bank was for the sole purpose of the further development of football in Antigua and Barbuda via participation in the 2014 FIFA Qualifiers which is mandatory for all members of FIFA,” ABFA president Everton Gonsalves said in a statement on the federation’s website.

However, entry is not mandatory and World Cup regulations state only that its member countries “may participate.” Four of FIFA’s more than 200 eligible members chose not to join the 2014 qualifying rounds.

Antigua and Barbuda advanced through one regional qualifying round, then placed last in a four-team group won by the United States. Gonsalves said the cost of playing was “daunting to say the least,” but the federation had been “overwhelmed with joy, a sense of national pride and patriotism and with so little time to prepare.”

The mortgage was reported to FIFA by a football club in Antigua following the ABFA election last May, Gonsalves said. FIFA imposed sanctions after the federation missed a Feb. 10 deadline to provide proof that the Antigua Commercial Bank no longer had a charge on the football land.

Like all FIFA members, the ABFA receives an annual grant of $250,000 from Zurich. The federation has also received $1.4 million since 2000 to modernize the training center on the island of Antigua, according to FIFA reports.

“We wish to assure and reassure our members and our colleagues in FIFA that the FIFA Goal Project remains under the ownership of the ABFA,” Gonsalves said. FIFA has budgeted to spend $34 million this year on its Goal program, which helps fund development work for its national members.

In the 2011 case, Gonsalves and ABFA general secretary Gordon Derrick received minor sanctions from FIFA’s ethics committee for their involvement.

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BFA statement on FIFA decision

LOGOThe ABFA is in receipt of a letter dated the 5th March 2013 and received by fax at our offices on the evening of Thursday 7th March 2013 from the World Governing Body of Football (FIFA) indicating its decision relating to the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association Executive Committee elections.

This letter, allegedly, stems from a written complaint made by the Hon Paul ”Chet” Greene and the Hon. to FIFA on their club’s (Parham FC) behalf which we understand allegedly states their discontent with the procedures leading up to and the conduct of the recently held ABFA elections which took place on the 20th December 2012.

FIFA wrote to the ABFA indicating that they had received the complaint from Senator Chet Greene and MP Asot Michael coupled with certain newspaper articles from the Daily Observer, Caribarena and AIM which spoke to apparent misconduct of the  20th December 2012 elections. They requested from the ABFA a copy of the minutes of the said election and a copy of the ABFA’s constitution. This was supplied immediately to them.

Following this, the ABFA then received further correspondence from FIFA indicating that two gentlemen, Mr. Marco Leal and Mr. Samir Gandhi will be making a courtesy visit to the ABFA to meet with the Executive Committee to discuss the state of football in Antigua and Barbuda, a courtesy visit to the Minster of Sport and to meet with the allegedly aggrieved individuals mentioned in the Parham FC letter. This they did.

During the meeting with the ABFA it was asked specifically to the gentlemen if they were conducting an investigation to which they categorically indicated NO but simply gathering information to see if there was any merit to the complaint of Hon. Asot Michael and Hon. Chet Greene. At this point President Gonsalves requested sight of the said complaint issued to CONCACAF and FIFA by Chet Greene and Asot Michael. Up until this writing, the ABFA Executive Committee has not received a copy of this complaint despite also seeking the same through a written request.

It is therefore with absolute shock and amazement that we read in the FIFA correspondence that the elections for the ABFA Executive Committee must be re-organized as a result of six (6) unsubstantiated allegations. The re-organization shall be as follows:-

The electoral process shall be conducted under the strict supervision/auspice of a three person independent electoral committee appointed by FIFA;

Such electoral process, “election”, shall be concluded by 15th April 2013;

The decisions of the independent electoral committee shall be considered as final and binding;

FIFA and CONCACAF will closely monitor the re-organization of the ABFA electoral process.

The ABFA Executive Committee shall immediately appeal this decision and/or seek further clarification on the implementation of this re-organization process as we are of the strong opinion that the constitution of the ABFA was completely adhered to and that the competent and supreme legislative body, which is the congress, of the ABFA decided on the conduct and result of the 20th December 2012 elections.

The ABFA Executive Committee regards this as a serious matter which, from the face of it, does not preserve the principles of democracy, due process, political neutrality and integrity.

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