On Target
November 15, 2013
Quo vadis – local football?

Football and its administration must have escaped serious injuries following the outcome of last Saturday’s Annual General Meeting of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation.{{more}}

The AGM, overdue for just about a year, could not have come at a more opportune time – a time when the sport here is facing a battle for integrity from the holders of offices on the national executive.

Additionally, the AGM came days after the sudden resignation of the first vice president Lloyd Small, who pointed to 21 reasons which prompted his decision. Also, several allegations were making the rounds about the executive’s handling of its finances, thus sparking greater interest.

And, as it was revealed at the meeting, in excess of $96,000, could not be accounted for when the books of the SVGFF were audited. On that sensitive matter, second vice president and treasurer of the SVGFF Marvin Fraser took responsibility, given his office.

Whilst this column is not pointing accusing fingers at anyone nor imputing misappropriation, the fact that the entire executive walked away from the meeting with just a tap on the wrist and a beg of pardon, has set a precedent. Forgiveness in life is not optional, but mandatory; but at least, some greater resolution should be meted out to the principal officers who have failed in their inability to account for more than $96,000 of the Federation’s funds.

It was not $9.60, which could have been for a pack of paper clips, whose invoice could not be found, but $96,000, which is testimony to the magnitude of the incompetencies and reneging of responsibilities.

Those elected were given the confidence since September 2011 to be good stewards and have failed miserably in the area of accountability.

But the affiliates have been caught in an offside position as it relates to their role in providing surveillance of the executive of the national football body.

Clearly some affiliates at last Saturday’s meeting simply slighted the issue, stating it has happened in other organisations previously. Wow, what a time!

And, the auditors’ report further elucidates the poor state of the operations of the secretariat.

What then, does it say about us as a people, if we prepared to condone and accept inefficiencies and pass them off as mediocrity and slip-ups in the management control mechanisms of the SVGFF’s office on Bentinck Square?

The fact that on entering office in 2011, the Venold Coombs executive did not proceed with a general secretary with training in accounting procedures, was the genesis of what we are experiencing today.

Now shadows are being chased and others with the necessary acumen have to be employed, thus carrying up the administrative budget of an organization which is basically financed by handouts.

One would have thought that Coombs would have stepped up his style of operations, since he campaigned two years ago vigorously on some of the allegations of vagaries of the then Joseph Delves led executive.

The Delves administration however left football with mainly the US$40,000 alleged bribe from Mohammed bin Hamman hanging over its head.

So, we are back to square one, and football has once again on the local scene been mired in controversy and mistrust, especially for the past 13 years, when the FIFA Football Assistance Programme gave access to a drawer of funds annually.

More so, the eyes of the region and that of the Caribbean Football Union, CONCACAF and FIFA will take a closer look at the operations of the SVGFF in light of the recent developments.

The fact that CONCACAF sent in its manager of Legal Affairs, Marco Leal, to observe last Saturday’s meeting is instructive.

Therefore, unless something drastically and definitive is done, the circle of change will continue to rotate.

Affiliates must be reminded that Article XVI 16.2 (b) of the constitution of the SVGFF states “Every member of the Executive Committee shall carry out his responsibilities to the best of his ability and competence and shall execute such duties and responsibilities honestly and diligently. In the event of any irregularities, which cannot be explained by any member responsible, the matter shall be reported to the General Council, to any authority or relevant body outside of The Football Federation for its investigation”.

Do the recent developments of the operations of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation apply to this section of the constitution?