Attempts to reform the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) have been hit by a fresh governance scandal involving Damien Flughes, the CFU's acting secretary-general from Anguilla.
Flughes is also secretary-general of the Anguilla Football Association (AFA), where half the senior male clubs claim they are unable to vote in association affairs and have not seen proper financial accounts since 2009.
“The 2010 accounts were presented at an extraordinary general meeting of the AFA held on Friday, January 27, 2012,” say the disenfranchised clubs. “Flowever, because of the generalised nature of the financial report, the clubs present requested and were promised a detailed breakdown of the report.”
When it did not materialise, the clubs approached the sports minister, Edison Baird, who called in Flughes and AFA president Raymond Guishard. After the meeting, Baird gave Flughes and Guishard - who was banned for 45 days in the cash-for-votes scandal that brought down the old CFU administration - a week to put their verbal answers down in writing.
This deadline was not met and Baird now plans to take the matter further.
FIFA typically suspends members subject to political interference, but Baird was acting on behalf of both the government and three clubs: Kicks United, Strikers and Doc's United.
Since joining FIFA in 1996, the AFA has received millions of dollars through FIFA's financial assistance programme (FAP) and the GOAL scheme. Anguilla, a British colony, have played just 25 senior internationals in that time.
“We are concerned that not enough football is being played in Anguilla,” say the rebel clubs. “Many of the young players who participate In the National Bank of Anguilla-sponsored inter-primary school tournament, for some inexplicable reason, do not play the game beyond primary school. We believe this speaks all about the lack of an adequate development programme.”
In 2003, FIFA agreed to provide US$600,000 towards a $653,976 centre and pitch, which was inaugurated by Sepp Blatter in 2010, yet the national team still do not play at home.
Anguilla played both legs of a 2014 World Cup qualifying tie with Dominican Republic away in San Cristobal, while none of the sidelined clubs have ever received invitations to play in the CFU Cup despite success at home.
2009 World Soccer has seen the AFA’s accounts and the FAP statement for 2009 and 2010. The accounts show that the government provided 15,000 East Caribbean dollars (£3,469) towards Anguilla playing in an Under-20 World Cup qualifier in Cuba. The CFU provided
137,886 East Caribbean dollars (£31,894) for “monies owed to AFA from World Cup qualifier”.
2010 Anguilla played El Salvador in the World Cup qualifiers, losing 16-0 on aggregate, with the “home” leg played this time in Washington DC. The FAP statement shows that the AFA received US$499,980 from FIFA in 2010 and spent US$305,458 on the technical centre. Another US$91,658 of FAP funds went on “planning and administration” in 2009 and another US$96,135 in 2010.
The sidelined clubs claim Guishard's wife works as AFA office manager and accuse the association of “nepotism” and “being run as a secret organisation”.
The three clubs added: “Regarding the suspension of the president in the ‘cash-for-vote’ scandal, for instance, neither he nor the AFA has issued a statement clarifying the reason for his suspension. The president has neither admitted nor denied receiving the US$40,000 gift. It would be instructive to have him answer to that specific question under oath.
“The present executive’s hold continues to be protected by the way the constitution is crafted. There is an urgent need for it to be reconstructed.” Kerthney Carty, Anguilla’s coach for part of the 2010 qualifiers, did not respond to requests for a comment. Another former national coach, Scott Cooper, said: “If they have concerns of parity and finance they should look. I am shocked, really shocked. I hope there is nothing untoward. I could not see it, but one never knows In football.”
The AFA did not respond to World Soccer's requests for a comment.
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