Government will not play ball with CIFA

No resumption of funding despite new president

Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden says there will be no peace deal between government and the Cayman Islands Football Association until the entire executive committee has put itself up for free and fair elections.

Minister Bodden welcomed the news that former national team captain Lee Ramoon has been appointed to replace disgraced Jeffrey Webb at the helm of the local game.

He expressed confidence in Mr. Ramoon, saying his appointment is an important step forward.

But he said simply changing the leader did not necessarily change the equation. To press the point, there is no specific allocation for CIFA in the budget.

Government withdrew its annual funding of approximately $130,000 a year several months after Webb’s arrest amid a row over CIFA’s last internal elections.

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At that time, Mr. Bodden called for the association to hold a new vote for all six elected posts on its nine-member executive council. He stood by that request this week, following Mr. Ramoon’s appointment. There are three elected members still sitting on CIFA’s leadership council who worked under Webb as president. They are first vice president Bruce Blake, Peter Campbell and Mark Campbell.

Also on the committee are Wendy Fisher, who was elected as deputy general secretary on Saturday, and treasurer Armando Ebanks, who was elected in August to the role vacated by Canover Watson, who was jailed in February in a different corruption probe.

Mr. Bodden said he was “very happy” with the election results.

“I wish to offer hearty congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Lee Ramoon, a man I know well, who means well, and is very able to do the job, given the right tools and support.

“I am looking forward to meeting with him soon to discuss the way forward. At the moment, there is no specific allocation in the new budget and I wish to state clearly that funding will not resume until we have a new administration.

“Putting someone credible into the office of president, albeit a step in the right direction, is not sufficient for the government to resume its funding to CIFA.”

CIFA’s ability to run the sport has been hampered since Webb’s arrest and guilty plea, with government and international governing body FIFA withdrawing some funding. The ability to attract new corporate sponsors is an added concern in the current climate.

Mr. Bodden said government continues to support the sport of football through contributions to clubs, players and programs, as well as youth tournaments, but was not ready to resume financing CIFA.

“Knowing Lee Ramoon the way I do, I am sure he understands this as good or even better than me, being a responsible, senior, long-term civil servant and economist who works in the Treasury Department of this country,” he added. “We look forward to the day when CIFA gets its house in order and we can resume our contributions to facilitate the hiring of a much needed technical director for this focus sport, which has a large number of young persons involved.”

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  1. Minister Bodden is perfectly correct. The current executive is tainted. The executive members have not only profited on the pitch build at Newlands but the executive members have personally pocketed from FIFA grants.
    Until he executive board is completely replaced who would have any confidence in CIFA .

  2. I, honestly, cannot help but agree with and support Mr. Bodden’s decision to temporarily withold Govt. funding from CIFA at this time.

    As he has said, changing the head of the organization does not necessarily change its direction or culture and these are the things that must change for CIFA to again become a credible organization.

    That credibility must be evident on the football pitches of Cayman and a few youth tournaments does not qualify as fulfilling that criteria.

    The first thing that Mr. Ramonn could do to inspire confidence is to sit down with some of the senior football figures and former players in Cayman and get their views and suggestions on the game and how they think it should progress.

    Then meet with the current football club executives and get their input.

    From this information, formulate a plan for the national development of the game, juniors through seniors, meaning reviving and revitalising a competitive senior mens national team to compete in regional and international tournaments and competitions.

    When ready and prepared, and this will take at least a few months to complete, present this plan to the Govt. and Minister Bodden and hope that he is impressed with it enough to reconsider his decision…

    And prepare to hold elections for the other positions of the CIFA executives who have totally lost the the trust and confidence of the Caymanian people.

    These actions might help Mr. Ramoon to get the right start on what will be a very difficult and challenging job.

  3. While words are nice, why doesn’t the Cayman Gov’t initiate a criminal investigation of CIFA and CONCACAF? That is what happens normally when someone steals something. The rest of the world has taken on corruption in football, why not Cayman? Oh, that’s right, we don’t want to look too hard as we might not like what we will find.

  4. If Minister Bodden is correct then I guess kids shouldn’t play this beautiful game anymore. The withdrawal of public funding was a mistake they should have assessed what programs the decision would affected and fund these programs directly. These knee jerk decisions scare me, the next generation of budding football talent have to suffer for the reckless decisions of a few men. The CIG has a habit of not following through as it pertains to football. For some this is the only outlet they have to learn the soft skills they need. Now the opportunity has been taken away from them. This is a short sighted decision that will hurt come election time.
    “Just Sayin”