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US Virgin Islands
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USVI Soccer president ousted
Published on December 24, 2010Email To Friend    Print Version

By Aaron Gray
The Virgin Islands Daily News

ST THOMAS, USVI (MCT) -- US Virgin Islands Soccer Association president Derrick Martin was removed from office and the entire seven-member USVI Soccer Association Executive Committee was dissolved during an Extraordinary Congress meeting Dec. 6 on St Croix.

The nine association members present for the meeting -- the first annual congress held since 2007 -- voted to dismiss Martin and the executive committee by an 8-1 vote.

Association members said the removal took effect immediately as FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, and CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, have accepted the move.

"This is something they have been going after for some time," Martin told The Daily News on Tuesday afternoon. "There were some financial issues. Everyone wants to know about the finances, but not everyone needs to know."

Steve Daniel, the former USVI Soccer Association administrative secretary, was elected as "Custodian of the Assets" of the association until new officers are elected. The USVI Soccer Association wanted to hold an election Dec. 19, but FIFA ruled that one month must pass, so the new election of officers will be held Jan. 23.

Martin was elected as the USVI Soccer Association president in 2003 and then re-elected four years later. Association members became irate with Martin earlier this year when they requested he become more transparent about the business of the association. Then they essentially lost all contact with him.

"Mr Martin would not answer phone, faxes or e-mails and this went on for over two months," said Daniel, who is associated with the Unique Soccer Club on St. Croix. "So we had to take measures into our own hands."

The USVI Soccer Association was founded in 1992 and because it is one of the 208 member associations of FIFA, it receives $250,000 every year to be invested purely on developmental projects like women's soccer, Futsal, refereeing, medical programs and more.

Since Martin has been at the helm, the association has received over $1 million and Martin said the latest $250,000 installment came in September.

The USVI Soccer Association has never organized a recreation youth soccer league, a women's soccer league or Futsal, which is a type of soccer that is played on a smaller playing surface or on the beach. An adult coed league did not happen on St. Thomas this past season and Martin said there has not been a USVI Soccer Association presence on St. John for the last three years.

"Before they get into high school, our kids have zero opportunity to play soccer," said Ferdinand Francis of the Positive Vibes Soccer Club on St. Thomas. "I have three sons, ages 6, 7 and 9 and none of them have played soccer yet and all three should have been playing for a long time by now. There is no relationship between the association and the schools."

There is an American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) presence on St. Croix, but it is not affiliated with the USVI Soccer Association.

Daniel and Francis, along with several other local soccer club managers, came together and started to contact CONCACAF about the issues facing the USVI Soccer Association. In response, FIFA development officer Daryll Warner was sent to St. Croix for an inspection visit from July 17-18.

Warner refused an interview with The Daily News about his visit, but according to the report Warner submitted to FIFA, he met with St. Croix soccer club representatives; Housing, Parks and Recreation commissioner St. Clair Williams; Martin and former USVI Soccer Association general secretary Edwina Taylor.

"We have a lot of problems," Daniel said. "CONCACAF was pressed because they have to answer to FIFA. The gentleman that came down for an overview of the association went back with a detailed report. That report was very essential to the movement we have been working toward."

The main issues discussed during Warner's visit included: why the annual congress had not met over the last three years and how 2007 was the last year USVI Soccer Association submitted financial reporting of its association. Questions about the association's general secretary -- a position nominated by Martin -- were heard, along with non-compliance issues with FIFA and a lack of accountability.

When asked Tuesday why an annual congress had not met in the last three years, Martin simply replied, "Certain circumstances contributed to that" but then he would not elaborate.

In October, the USVI Under-20 men's soccer team went 0-3 at the Digicel Caribbean Cup in Providence, Guyana. The tournament served as a qualifier for the Caribbean Football Union and if the USVI had won or taken second place in its four-team group, it might have earned a possible appearance in the CONCACAF Finals.

Martin said paying for the territory's Under-16, Under-19 and Under-20 teams is reflected in the association's budget along with a phantom women's league, USVI Soccer Association coaches teaching soccer to physical education classes in public schools, a grass roots soccer program that meets on the weekends and administrative costs.

"There has been a vast improvement in terms of local people playing soccer since I was in office," Martin said. "I guess they felt I wasn't good enough."

Copyright (c) 2010, The Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Thomas
To see more of The Virgin Islands Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to
http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
 
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