A continuing dispute over finances, including payments to players, is at the centre of the latest controversy surrounding the Cayman Islands Football Association, the athletes and support staff on the Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team.
Following a Cayman Compass article published in June outlining several concerns and areas of frustration voiced by national team players, CIFA earlier this month met with players and team management and then issued a press release explaining its perspective on the points of contention.
Among them: complaints of inadequate payments that were meant to cover players’ expenses during the national team’s recent World Cup qualifying matches that were played in Florida due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CIFA in its response said, “CIFA paid players travel stipends of CI$100.00 per day (per player), quarantine allowances of CI$100.00 per day (per player), training allowances of CI$30 per training session (for each player that attended training), and a bonus of CI$7,500 that was split equally amongst the 23 players for the draw against Bermuda.”
The release went on to say, “CIFA provided everything needed for the two World Cup Qualifier trips, and this included and not limited to an increase of daily and quarantine allowances, charter flights, best available hotels, stadium rentals, meals, medical assistance.”
However, the Cayman Compass has obtained, through an anonymous source, a copy of the report written by senior football team manager Antwan Seymour, which suggests CIFA’s recent release to the media is misleading.
The report stated that CIFA president Alfredo Whittaker, who is currently on a FIFA six-month ban from all national team football activities, proved to be an obstacle to accessing financial resources.
In the document, Seymour referred to several instances where both players and team officials were forced to pay out-of-pocket for expenses that should have been covered by CIFA. For example, when the team arrived in Bradenton, Florida for the World Cup qualifiers, they went for a meal at the Golden Corral restaurant. However, the total bill was $170 more than what the team was allotted, forcing the team manager to cover the outstanding cost, to be reimbursed later.
In addition, in his report, Seymour pointed to the “lack of a budget” for water; snacks, which cost more than $500; laundry supplies and other items, meaning those purchases were also made out-of-pocket, to be repaid later.
“Not knowing fully our limitations with the President [due to his suspension], transportation was arranged out of pocket by two staff members, which greatly assisted the team during the stay,” Seymour stated in the report.
In its press release, CIFA said that from January to June this year, each national player received “about CI$5,500”, totalling a $126,500 pay-out, that did not include staff allowances for the trips.
CIFA stressed that when looking at the association’s finances, it is necessary to consider all the national football programmes – both the men’s and women’s leagues and their various age groups.
“There is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes and the figures are even bigger as we have not even mentioned uniforms, chartered flights, paying full time coaches, staff, medics, etc.,” for all the national programmes at all levels, CIFA said.
In his report, Seymour, while commending some of the association’s efforts, said more needed to be done.
“I will be the first to say that the association has made a number of changes and improved in some areas,” Seymour said. “The issue and concern is that the association is responsible for 101 things and does 30 things good, and then expect praises for those and nothing to be said about the 71 things that have been put aside, on hold or not even looked at.”
The current state of CIFA is widely considered to be a significant improvement compared to past troubles. In December, CIFA received financial support from the Cayman Islands government for the first time since 2016 following a guilty plea by former president Jeffrey Webb in a wide-ranging corruption scandal. The non-profit organisation receives funding from sources including the private sector, government and FIFA, the international governing body for football.
According to CIFA, a budget upwards of $4.5 million has been set for the next three years, which covers plans to expand the CIFA headquarters and the construction of a new pitch.
The statement reads, “In this current football climate, FIFA STIPULATES AND DICTATES the criteria and provides strict guidelines on how the funds are to be spent that they allocate to us. The fact is, if CIFA does not abide by the rules when it comes on to spending, FIFA will impose sanctions and will even go as far as to suspend funding.”