The upcoming elections for the Cayman Islands Football Association could have constituted a fresh start for a troubled organization that is ground zero for the international FIFA corruption scandal.
Instead, the elections — or, since no challengers are being allowed to run for leadership positions, “re-elections” — appear to reinforce the worst possible suspicions about CIFA’s lack of transparency and accountability.
Let us review: In late May, local and regional football head Jeffrey Webb was arrested in Switzerland after being indicted in U.S. federal court on multiple counts related to bribery and money laundering. Webb was then replaced as CIFA president “on a provisional basis” by First Vice President Bruce Blake.
In early July, Webb was charged in connection with a separate Cayman investigation into the awarding of a public health services contract, along with former Health Services Authority board chairman Canover Watson, who is a former CIFA treasurer.
In mid-July, following extradition to the U.S., Webb pleaded not guilty in U.S. federal court and was released on US$10 million bond. His next court date is set for October.
In early August, Renard Moxam, a longtime figure in local football and current Cayman national teams director, announced his intention to challenge Mr. Blake for leadership of CIFA. At the same time, local attorney Sharon Roulstone submitted her nomination form to run for assistant general secretary against incumbent Mark Campbell.
Immediately after Mr. Moxam submitted his nomination form, he received email correspondence from CIFA Acting General Secretary Paul Macey saying that “it would appear that the requirements of the nomination process have been met.”
On Aug. 12, well after the final deadline for nominations had passed, Mr. Macey wrote again to Mr. Moxam, saying that upon further consideration, his nomination did not comply with CIFA’s requirements, and would not be accepted. Similar notice was given to Ms. Roulstone.
On Aug. 18, a story was published in the Cayman Compass detailing the rejection of Mr. Moxam’s nomination, based on the email correspondence between Mr. Moxam and Mr. Macey, backup information cited by Mr. Macey, and a letter from CIFA to local clubs.
On Aug. 21, the Compass published a follow-up story wherein Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden questioned CIFA’s decision and called on the group to hold “free and fair elections.”
On Aug. 24, CIFA issued a statement criticizing news reports and purporting “to put the relevant facts before the public so that the statements in the media can be read against an accurate factual background.”
CIFA’s statement, unfortunately, begins with an untruth.
According to CIFA’s statement, “Regrettably neither CIFA nor its attorney have been given an opportunity to put CIFA’s views prior to these articles being published …”
On the contrary. On Monday, Aug. 17, soon after learning of Mr. Moxam’s rejection, a Compass reporter called Mr. Macey multiple times throughout the day, with no success. Eight days later, the reporter is still awaiting a return call. The week prior, the same reporter had been told by Mr. Blake that he would not comment on the CIFA election until after the arrival of Cayman’s U-15 national squad, which occurred Tuesday, Aug. 18. (We note that a reporter for another news outlet claims to have approached Mr. Blake for comment at the airport that day, an opportunity he did not take.)
The remainder of CIFA’s statement, which appears in full on the right-hand side of this page, contains little in the way of illuminating information — indeed, it confirms most of what the Compass has reported. Frankly, it reads as a list of lawyerly justifications for not accepting Mr. Moxam’s and Ms. Roulstone’s nominations, or not notifying them immediately that their submissions were deficient, to allow them to remediate any problems before the deadline expired.
Minister Bodden seems to be as unimpressed with CIFA’s explanation as we are. His response to their response? Striking the organization’s public funding, amounting to some $128,000 in the budget year.
That demonstrates a concept we have opined time and again: Appearances are paramount. When something, such as CIFA’s electoral activity, looks this bad — it doesn’t just look bad; it is bad.