‘CIFA can survive loss of government support’
Acting head of the Cayman Islands Football Association Bruce Blake has shrugged off government’s decision to pull funding from the organization and insists he is the man to take the sport forward.
Mr. Blake said the government’s decision this week was “concerning” and “unfortunate” but would not impact the organization’s election process, which he said is governed by clear rules set out in its constitution.
“Once you throw away your constitution and try to appoint positions or dictate who should be in positions, we are going down a very dangerous road,” he said.
“What happens next? Once that is done to football, will they then turn to other associations or other sports? It is a dangerous precedent to set.”
Mr. Blake said CIFA has enough alternative funds to survive the blow to its finances and would look to the private sector for further donations and sponsorship deals.
Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden revealed Tuesday that government was withholding its $130,000 annual grant to the organization amid concerns over the election process. He has called on the association to allow free and fair elections.
As it stands, Mr. Blake will be the only candidate in Saturday’s election vying for the role of first vice president and acting president of the association. Renard Moxam, who had announced plans to run, was told his nomination was “defective” and he will not be allowed to stand.
Mr. Blake said it is a “misconception” that CIFA did not want Moxam to participate. He said his rival had simply not been able to get the necessary support required.
“It is the members that make the nominations. If the members deem Renard fit, they would have nominated him.
“The minimum requirement is four members – two to propose and two to second. If you are the person to lead football and you think you have the support, you would have gotten those clubs to nominate and second you.”
Mr. Moxam, who submitted nomination forms supported by two clubs, believed he had met the requirement to run. He was initially told by CIFA acting General Secretary Paul Macey that his nomination appeared to be in order, but he was informed after the deadline that it was “defective.”
He and Sharon Roulstone, who was blocked from running for the post of assistant general secretary on the same grounds, issued a statement Thursday saying the decision was “legally incorrect” and calling on the CIFA executive to “lay aside” self interest and approve their candidacy.
Mr. Blake, who received multiple nominations, said the association’s constitution was clear and Mr. Moxam had not met the requirements.
“Unfortunately he wasn’t able to obtain the bare minimum of nominations required,” he added.
He said the association’s stance was not likely to change in the face of government pressure.
“I think the position the government has taken is they would like to see the entire executive change … .
“It is the government’s prerogative to do what they want to do with their funding. If they choose to do so [cut funding], there is nothing we can do about it, but we have followed our constitution.”
He said the funding is important but not critical.
“We can adjust our budgets to counter those shortfalls. It isn’t a matter of it being that detrimental to football … We will be able to function … there [are] a lot more funds necessary to run football [than the government grant].
“We will have to deal with it and move on.”
Despite negative publicity following the arrest of Jeffrey Webb, who remains president of the association although he has been suspended from the role as he awaits trial in New York on corruption-related charges, Mr. Blake believes private sector sponsors will continue to offer financial support.
“We will have to go out there and increase our fundraising efforts. Right now I am talking to three companies about sponsorship. We still have FIFA funding and to some extent CONCACAF funding.”
He has proposed hiring a public relations and marketing specialist to aggressively pursue funding and believes there are untapped funds available from FIFA to support the game.
He said he is not against change, but it has to be “according to the constitution.”
“I’m happy for whatever change the membership sees fit,” he added.
Mr. Blake said his motivation is to help children get opportunities through sport.
“I have a vision for football. I love football. I’ve dedicated my life to football. I want our children to have … many opportunities through football – whether it is to go to university, whether it is playing with semiprofessional or professional teams, or becoming FIFA referees.”