Football association insists process ‘perfectly open’
Government is pulling its funding from the Cayman Islands Football Association amid concerns about the handling of leadership elections.
The association currently gets an annual government grant of around $130,000.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden said he understood “the technicality” the association was using to “block bids” from those seeking election. But, he said, in light of the increased scrutiny facing world and local football authorities, following widespread corruption allegations and the arrest of former CIFA leader Jeffrey Webb, the association could have found a way to allow possible changes to the executive.
CIFA, in a statement published in full on page 4 of today’s Cayman Compass, seeks to defend its decision, suggesting nominations relating to bids by Renard Moxam and Sharon Roulstone to run for office were “defective.” In its statement, CIFA suggests that its election process is “perfectly open” and claims there is no “lawful basis” for the two candidates to run.
The statement gives a detailed explanation of why the nominations were not accepted and suggests it is “regrettable” that Mr. Bodden commented publicly on the issue, to the media last week, without waiting for its written explanation.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Bodden suggested CIFA’s statement had not changed his opinion on the matter, and he confirmed government would be pulling its funding.
“As the largest local financial donor and stakeholder, the government has a vested interest in ensuring public funds are spent properly for the good of football development in these islands,” Mr. Bodden said.
“As a government, 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.”
CIFA is scheduled to receive the second of four annual payments of $31,944 from government in October. Mr. Bodden indicated that this money could be redirected elsewhere through a Cabinet order.
He went on to question the election nomination process apparently required by CIFA to stand for unpaid positions on its executive, commenting that it appeared to require some 20 percent of voters to nominate a candidate before they could stand.
“Quite frankly, it appears that it’s easier to run for political office in the country than to seek office in CIFA,” he added.
As it stands, Bruce Blake, first vice president and acting president of CIFA since the arrest of Webb, will run unopposed in the vote at the association’s annual general meeting on Saturday. Mark Campbell, whom Ms. Roulstone had sought to challenge for the role of assistant general secretary, will also run unopposed.
CIFA in its statement said it could not accept defective nomination forms.
“The situation is no different from a voter submitting a spoiled ballot in a general election.
“The voter’s polling station is not open the following day to allow him to complete a proper ballot, neither is another general election held because a candidate failed to meet the requirements to run.”
According to CIFA, both Mr. Moxam and Ms. Roulstone had not submitted their nomination forms in accordance with the organization’s rule book. The details center on the process of member clubs nominating and seconding an application to run for elected office and the order in which they were received.
The statement from CIFA acknowledges that Mr. Moxam was initially told in an email from CIFA General Secretary Paul Macey that “it would appear the requirements of the nomination process have been met.”
According to CIFA, the irregularities with Mr. Moxam’s and Ms. Roulstone’s nominations, sent on the deadline day, were not noticed until they were properly reviewed on the Monday after the deadline had passed.
CIFA’s executive unanimously agreed the nominations were defective and sought legal advice to confirm this before advising the would-be candidates of the decision, the association said.
In its statement, CIFA also reprints an email from Minister Bodden sent to acting president Mr. Blake, saying he was taken aback by the pronouncements from CIFA about the election.
The email from Mr. Bodden states, “It would be wise to welcome all and sundry to put themselves forward to contest whatever seat they see fit, and thereby show to the public that there is nothing to hide and you guys are willing to contest fairly for all executive seats.”
The CIFA statement suggests the minister should have waited for a written response before repeating these concerns to the media last week.
It continued, “Had he done so he would have understood that Mr. Moxam and Ms. Roulstone’s nominations were defective. He would be aware that CIFA was, and remains, bound by its Articles of Association.
“There is no lawful basis upon which CIFA may depart from those Articles in order to accommodate a nominee whose nomination is defective.”
The CIFA statement adds, “Much comment has been made regarding a need to change the leadership of CIFA. There is a perfectly open election process in CIFA’s Articles.
“If the CIFA membership feel change is required it is, of course, open to the members to effect that change by nominating new officers. It does not require, and is inappropriate, to seek to enlist public opinion and government intervention particularly in an organization subject to other international obligations which include remaining politically neutral.”