On August 16, 2018, I was fortunate to witness your election as president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, replacing former president, Mr. Venold Coombs.
Now that Mr. Marvin Fraser is at the helm of the organisation in his hands, and the executive is a continuance of the Venold Coombs’ led administration, there should have been an improvement of the SVGFF’s administration.
The SVGFF is an organisation that I was privileged to have served, not only as first vice-president, but also as its general-secretary amongst other capacities.
But after almost four months following Mr. Fraser’s election, I am not convinced that the change of guard at the apex of the executive committee of the SVGFF, was the solution for the numerous governance issues plaguing the SVGFF.
Those issues of governance have for several years, dating as far back as 1992, been responsible for the regression of the sport’s development. In fact the modus operandi continues to the detriment of the integrity of the SVGFF, and the sport’s development.
Two recent issues have caught my attention; both of which have been articulated in the media. It is such issues which were left unattended, or treated as being nothing, subsequently resulting in bad administrative practices, bringing shame unto the image of the sport and the SVGFF, with the subsequent banning of former SVGFF officials by FIFA.
The current dispute between the former media officer and the SVGFF is one which is evident of a refusal or failure by the SVGFF administrators to adhere to the labour laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I examine this dispute as one trained in labour laws and industrial relations.
The failure or refusal by the SVGFF, by not giving the former media officer a contract or letter of employment, is a clear violation of the Protection of Employment Act #20 0f 2003, Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Then, not following established laws, procedures, and practices in the firing of the former media officer by giving him a disciplinary hearing, the SVGFF did commit another clear violation.
Then the failure by the SVGFF to refer the matter to the Labour Commissioner, before effecting the firing the former media officer, is another violation.
In addition to all of this being clearly outlined in the Protection of Employment Act #20 of 2003 – Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, FIFA mandates that all employees of its member associations must be given employment contracts.
It begs the question – how can one have worked with the SVGFF and the labour laws are not followed? FIFA also expects all member associations to follow all national laws, including laws of employment and labour relations.
The other issue is the use of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 logo on tee-shirts here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, by the St. Vincent Brewery.
Mr. Fraser, FIFA have clearly outline how to use its logos, and trademarks, in a 2016 document re: ‘Guidelines for the use of FIFA’s Official Marks November 2016,’ which was circulated to all member associations.
Who authorised the St. Vincent Brewery to use the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 logo, in a game-for-profit? To date, not a single statement have been issued by the SVGFF. Is it because the St. Vincent Brewery is a sponsor of the SVGFF? If so, then the SVGFF has violated FIFA’s Codes of Ethics and Governance, respectively, and an explanation should be forthcoming immediately.
The above stated facts show that checks and balances are urgently needed at the SVGFF, all of which are conspicuously absent due to weak administrators, and therefore need urgent institutional re-tooling.
However, for this to be attained, I hereby propose a few of the following remedies that I have formulated:
1. A vigorous screening of individuals nominated to be elected to the Executive Committee, so as to check the appropriate skill sets needed to administer the game – in other words, a due diligence test should done on all those individuals.
2. The immediate adoption, and implementation of FIFA’s Codes of Ethics and Governance Mechanisms by the executive committee of the SVGFF. This is mandatory for all Member Associations.
3. Individuals elected to the Executive Committee must relinquish their managerial positions associated with any football club, league, or area association (if such still exist), to avoid corruption and conflicts of interest, of the kind which have affected the SVGFF over the years.
4. A mandatory 12-year term limit for all individuals elected to the Executive Committee. Once such term limits has been reached, the individual can no longer seek to serve on the executive committee – ever again. This would allow for capacity building, and ensure that there are fresh legs and brains to serve the national good.
5. A constant refreshing and re-tooling through seminars and workshops should be mandatory for all officials of the SVGFF. This must include the General-Secretary, as recent incidents point to a lack of skills, knowledge, and experience in the current occupant of that office.
6. The introduction of a confidential information policy; all employees and executive committee members should sign a confidentiality document.
7. The establishment of standing orders to properly conduct meetings of the SVGFF.
8. The declaration of all personal assets by all executive committee members.
9. Urgently establish a code of conduct for all officials of the SVGFF, through a rigorous adoption of FIFA’s Code of Ethics.
10. Construct the most effective and efficient internal control systems relative to all financial matters and procurement procedures.
11. Introduce a mandatory policy to have at least 1/3 of football administration, being women’s representatives at all levels.
12. The proper licensing of clubs, without victimisation and discrimination.
These proposals can address the core principles of good governance currently affecting the SVGFF, re: accountability, transparency, participation, fairness, equity, and inclusiveness.
I am also advising that the SVGFF executive committee, find the avenues to bring about an immediate settlement of all ongoing disputes, for the good image of the SVGFF and its integrity.
It was similar issues of governance and ethics, which prompted my resignation, and today, those same issues continue to be left unattended.
The fact remains there must be a radical change of attitude and approach to matters of governance, which must not be left to the executive members who may take collective decisions on their perceived love or hatred for an individual, and or club.
Lloyd T. Small
Former First Vice-President