(CNS): Lee Ramoon has been elected as the new CIFA president and has promised to regain the trust of the members, sponsors, the public and government, but he said it would take time to turn the association around. “Everyone wants to see change and it is about to happen, but it will be baby steps,” he told the press in the wake of Saturday’s congress and his election to office. Ramoon said he was thankful to the membership for placing their trust in him to tackle the challenges ahead for the cash-strapped association.
The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) has been mired in controversy since the arrest of former president Jeffrey Webb in the FIFA scandal and the revelations during the recent corruption trial of former treasurer, Canover Watson.
Ramoon acknowledged the problems and challenges ahead but said he would be focusing on transparency and rebuilding the trust lost by the scandals. He said that the CIFA treasurer had given the membership a detailed review of what was happening and that FIFA had agreed to give CIFA emergency funding to keep the national teams going.
Facing a real struggle for cash, Ramoon said he was already talking to government about the return of the annual grant. However, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden has previously made it clear that he will not agree to reinstate the grant until the entire executive changes and all of the individuals associated with the previous regime resign.
“I understand his point of view but it is difficult to just get rid of the members that the minister is alluding to, but we will have another congress in August and we will look at this between now and then,” Ramoon said, as he explained that he would be discussing the future executive line-up with members and planned to have more talks with Minister Bodden.
In addition to the vote for the new president, members elected Wendy Fisher as the deputy general secretary. The congress also included a presentation from the treasurer, Armando Ebanks, who told the media that CIFA was in an exceptionally challenging position when it came to cash.
He said that they had been able to identify that money had gone missing and the association was working with FIFA, which is conducting a forensic audit on all transactions to see if any other funds have been misappropriate. But with government freezing its grant of $127,000, CONCACAF stopping its $100,000 funding and FIFA withdrawing its annual $250,000 grant as well, without match revenue the national game is in serious trouble. Down around half a million dollars a year, the lack of public trust is also hampering efforts to raise private sector funding.
He said the emergency FIFA cash would help to cover the very basics but CIFA was in a difficult place. “It is crucial that we get back the government funding,” he said, as he pointed to the problems CIFA faced as a result of the cash being cut.
Ebanks said he too was committed to change and the financial functions of the treasure’s office were being separated and an independent outside accountant had been taken on to ensure that it is no longer just one person dealing with the money. Pointing to more checks and balances, he echoed Ramoon’s comments about the need for more transparency across the executive. The treasurer also confirmed that CIFA will be holding another meeting before the August congress with the clubs to talk more about the financial situation.
CONCACAF’s director of legal affairs, Marco Leal, also attended the election congress to oversee the process and he commended CIFA for executing a clean and fair election. He said he could not comment on the financial situation because of the ongoing investigations. Although he was pleased with how the election had gone, he warned that the new president had many challenges ahead of him to rebuild trust.
Ramoon, who has been elected to serve the remaining 15 months of the current presidential term, beat out Alfredo Whittaker, the only other contender for the top job, which had been temporarily held by Bruce Blake, who is vice president, who acted as president in the wake of Webb’s arrest in May 2015 in Switzerland, when the FIFA scandal was finally exposed.
Category: Local News