Nothing to worry about!
That’s the word from president of the Barbados Football Association, Randy Harris, following a decision by football’s governing body FIFA to block US$10 million in funding individually to both CONMEBAL and CONCACAF.
CONMEBAL supervises soccer in South America, while CONCACAF overseas the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Both confederations have been at the center of the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the sport has resulted in charges against 39 individuals for various crimes such as racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.
The last three regional federation presidents have been indicted by the US authorities in the corruption case, including Caymanian Jeffrey Webb, his predecessor Austin “Jack” Warner from Trinidad and Tobago, and Honduran Alfred Hawit, who replaced Webb before CONCACAF announced it would not install a new president until this month’s summit.
CONMEBOL’s former president, Nicolas Leoz, and its most recent leader, Jan Angel Napout, both from Paraguay, were indicted along with several other leading officials.
But today Harris told Barbados TODAY that FIFA’s decision would not have any immediate impact on the BFA’s development projects, including its Goal Programme which was initiated by outgoing suspended FIFA president, Sepp Blatter. That programme has included the construction of the BFA’s facility at Wildey, St Michael, as well as initiatives for the advancement of women’s football.
Harris said funding to the BFA was done through member associations and not through the confederation. He explained that as a result FIFA’s decision, which was announced this week, would not be a major concern.
“What has happened is that funding for our ongoing programmes in Barbados have already been approved so we should not be affected. We should be okay,” Harris said.
However, according to FIFA reports the decision means that there will be no more annual payouts from the world body’s headquarters to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and other national football associations in the region. A FIFA official indicated that the governing body would be seeking certain assurances before releasing any further funding.
“We can confirm that in light of current proceedings involving individuals related to CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, FIFA has put contributions towards these two confederations on hold until further notice. We are currently assessing further steps to be taken to increase the level of assurance which may again enable FIFA to release such funds in the future,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement to the international press.
Most of the people and entities that have been charged in the United States are associated with one of the two regional confederations.
FIFA released a video during the week ahead of this month’s summit spelling out the changes it had implemented in the wake of the scandal, including reducing the president’s power and transparency on earnings. The new governance structures will be mirrored by all of its member associations and countries.
Last month CONCACAF said in a letter to its membership that the confederation had not received the $10 million in payments from FIFA despite its submission of requested documentation.
“CONCACAF has fulfilled all of FIFA’s requests for documents and information regarding the new administrative, compliance, and procurement processes that have been implemented at the Confederation to ensure the issue is resolved in a timely manner,” the confederation indicated.