Cayman Islands government pulls football funding in wake of FIFA scandal and election controversy
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands - The Cayman Islands sports minister has pulled government’s contribution to the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) after the row over the refusal by the local football body to accept two challengers to the long-entrenched members of the executive committee escalated this week.
Bodden said that the government will, in the current circumstances, redirect the annual payment give to CIFA of $127,775 (US$159,000) from the public purse to other sport associations in the face of real concerns that CIFA is failing to clean house and recognise the need for change.
The withdrawal of government funds follows a statement from CIFA on Tuesday in which officials made it clear that they were not going to honour nominations from two challengers to existing executive members, citing alleged infractions, despite accepting the nominations in the first instance.
The challenge to the current leadership came from Renard Moxam and Sharon Roulstone but the CIFA committee is refusing to allow the pair to stand during this weekend’s annual executive election, which has caused wide public outcry, as many believe the current leadership of CIFA is not only out of touch and failing the sport but also tainted by the wider FIFA probe, in which the suspended president, Jeffrey Webb, is deeply entrenched and refusing to admit anything is wrong.
Bodden said on Tuesday that the “technicality used to block the bids of those seeking office” may be in the rule book but, in light of all that has happened, it was time to allow some changes to the CIFA executive. Querying why CIFA’s articles of association were designed to require almost 20% of the team membership to nominate anyone, the sports minister said it was easier to run for political office than to get a volunteer post in CIFA.
But of greater concern for the minister is CIFA’s failure to address the lack of transparency in the association, despite requests from his ministry. Bodden said that in earlier correspondence the current acting president, Bruce Blake, had told him that he had “implored the members to search their conscience in light of circumstances surrounding the suspended president and CIFA, and to step down if they saw fit”, but no one has stepped down.
This means that on Saturday only two positions would have been up for election, including Blake’s role as first vice president and Mark Campbell as the assistant secretary. But the two challengers have been rejected and CIFA shows no signs of bending to either public or ministerial pressure.
Blake has also stated that Webb, who is under house arrest in the United States accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes in relation to his role in particular as the CONCACAF president, remains as the “suspended president of CIFA” and his seat was uncontested as his term was still running.
Given all that has happened, Bodden said that, as the largest local financial donor to CIFA, government has a “vested interest in ensuring public funds are spent properly for the good of football development”, as he announced the decision to pull the funding.
“We have therefore decided that, regrettably, we cannot financially support CIFA any further under the current circumstances. With a new season just around the corner, it is hoped that the current executive of CIFA will do what is right in the public interest,” he added.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service