BY MARCIA BRAVEBOY
For too long FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has been the beginning and end of football jurisprudence in the smaller Caribbean countries as incident after incident within the region smacks of utter legal control of not just football – but a creeping realisation of utter and total disregard and disrespect for legislation, laws, ethics and the operation of our Magistracy and Supreme Court rulings in these fragile democracies.
After introducing the Caribbean to an insidious form of corrupt management via the liberal spread of easy money to Caribbean Administrators of Football as evidenced in the $40,000.00 vote-buy and the debacle of the likes of Jack Warner and the cherry-picking arrest of others, Fifa has now turned to the manipulation of our democratic and legal institutions in an attempt at colonial domination from afar.
Fifa now has no qualms openinly thwarting our democratic norms by edifices emanating from Fifa’s General Secretariat rather than from the Legal Department or the Ethics Department.
We in the Concacaf region have now been relegated to decisions by a General Secretary of Fifa.
In a move consistent with its established statutes, an executive meeting of the Grenada Football Association saw fit to remove its sitting President Cheney Joseph in a five to four majority vote. A purely legal action taken as a result of malfeasance by Joseph, duly tried and pronounced by our legal system via a Magistrate in one of our Courts.
A criminal verdict was returned with the result that Joseph, to avert a prison term of one month, had to pay a $400.00 fine among other Court requirements.
This action was taken according to the GFA Statutes Art. 40 subsection “r” pending an investigation and subsequent final decision by a General Council meet.
Fifa, acting in a signatory autocratic manner insisted that “… the suspension is without grounds …” and went on to further state “Fifa recognises Mr. Cheney Joseph as the duly elected President of the GFA” then the coup de gras threat of Fifa “…taking up the matter further.”
A number of things are diabolically wrong here:
(1). The democratic norm of majority decision making by a legal body using the legal GFA statutes was severely undermined by Fifa Secretary General, Fatma Samoura.
In Grenada, we use first-past-the-post system (50+1) as a crucial part of collective decision making; much like the United Nations which the lady served for many years.
(2). Further investigation before such a FIFA decision was delivered, was never considered by the FIFA General Secretary. There is the unassailable fact that the possibility existed that the GFA General Secretary withheld further evidence which would have supported the majority decision.
A simple investigation would have revealed that GFA General Secretary, Ken Martin-Whiteman was a key police prosecution witness in the matter which lasted for five years, providing the factual basis for the provisional dismissal of Mr. Cheney Joseph by the majority of GFA Executive Committee members.
Mr. Ken Martin-Whiteman was therefore an interested party and subject to skeptical view of his credibility. Further to that two of the present Executive Members were also active participants in the President’s ugly attack on his Vice-President in that they both tried to dissuade the President from his vile and vituperative attack.
Fifa should have sent a fact-finding representative as they did on previous occasions.
(3). Note that this decision was taken by Fifa’s General Secretary and not FIFA’s Legal Department or Fifa’s Ethics committee; a serious error which sends a dangerous signal to Fifa affiliates looking to Fifa for sound legal and Ethical decision making.
(4). Finally, the GFA Executive Committee followed the book and all the democratically lawful dictates in the majority vote decision – in fact all legal members voted at that meeting both for and against; (5-for/4-against) as no doubt the minutes reflected. Fifa then, for all intent and purposes, short-circuited our statute-established process by their edifice, thereby interfering in a micro-management way in the internal affairs of the governance of the Grenada Football Association.
In a word Ms Fatma Samoura, as General Secretary of Fifa, overstepped her authority in her two communications to the GFA secretariat which has resulted unwittingly or otherwise:
(1). In setting the precedence, undermined the very democratic process of decision making by Executive Committees in Fifa.
(2).Disregarding in a very vulgar way a State/country’s Laws and Court rulings.
(3). Inadvertently sending a message of acquiescence to others within Fifa administrative bodies that State Laws, Law enforcement bodies or the legal courts are ignored by FIFA, no matter the seriousness of the criminal actions of their administrative affiliates.
(4). The time has come for the State of every Caribbean country to look closely at the legal decisions of FIFA and its affiliated bodies to ensure that the laws of their land are not tampered with and the decision of their courts respected. Or else the inexorably creeping football colonialism will envelop all our Caribbean countries by an organisation which is a law unto itself and justice will not matter. FIFA cannot be allowed to be above a country’s Laws.
(5). The Office of the Register of Cooperatives, under which GFA falls, should conduct a thorough investigation into these types of breaches to ascertain compliance with our Constitution and laws.
This should be applicable to all other sporting organisations but particularly to FIFA since that organisation is the wealthiest of all – a sure sign of the potential for state control by a foreign entity.
(6). Caribbean nations have historically fought too hard in the social and political arena to end colonialism, only to allow this to re-occur in the sport of football.
(Marcia Braveboy is a Grenadian journalist who is based in Trinidad & Tobago)