Bermuda could be banned by FIFA Mussenden
Government’s Commission of Inquiry into Bermuda Football Association’s ‘financial standing’ could end up with the country being banned from international competition.
BFA president Larry Mussenden made that grim prediction as he issued a stark warning about the world governing body’s attitude to politicians meddling in the affairs of member associations.
The former Attorney General said that Sports Minister Blakeney had no ‘lawful authority’ to review the financial standing of his association, but also said that he had no issue with them wanting to investigate how the special grant funding was allocated.
Mussenden’s main issue is with sub section 3.1 of the terms of reference which says. ‘The Commission shall conduct an independent inquiry to review the financial standing of the Bermuda Football Association and the Bermuda Cricket Board’.
“There is nobody, and certainly no Minister, who can actually say that they are going to appoint some independent inquiry to review somebody’s financial standing,” said Mussenden.
“No Minister has any lawful authority whatsoever to set up some inquiry, for instance, to review the financial standing of ACE Insurance or HSBC or Butterfield Bank or Marketplace or Bermuda Cricket Board or Bermuda Industrial Union.
“FIFA takes a very strong view of Government bodies overstepping their bounds and trying to get into the affairs of the member associations. And there have been numerous cases before where FIFA brooks no nonsense and they will issue a directive that, for instance, a clause like that actually be withdrawn.
“FIFA has issued threats before to countries that they will ban them from international competition and they stand by those threats. I caution the Minister and Government to think very clearly about that function 3.1, particularly in the light of upcoming World Cup games because, if FIFA does take a view that (3.1) encroaches upon the independence of the BFA they might very likely do that.”
Central to Mussenden’s issue with the clause is that the BFA receives financial assistance from a variety of sources, as does the Bermuda Cricket Board. And while he acknowledges Government’s right to investigate where their funding is spent he said they had no right to know how FIFA money or money from sponsors is distributed.
“We get money from sponsors, we get money from FIFA and there is no way that FIFA is going to allow a Government of any country to be enquiring how it is that they have decided that its money will be spent,” he said.
“And there are serious consequences for that and so I caution the Governor and any Minister about that function.”
Mussenden also weighed in on the row surrounding the seven-member panel that Blakeney had appointed to run the inquiry, and questioned the ability of BFA honorary vice-presidents Charlie Marshall and Donald Dane to remain impartial.
While the BFA boss registered his ‘great respect’ for everyone named as commissioners he said there should be no conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise, and suggested Clyde Best be removed because he already appeared to have made up his mind.
In his weekly column with
The Royal Gazette on Saturday Best wrote ‘the whole situation of money that has been wastefully spent by the BCB and BFA is something that has to be addressed’.
“I would have thought that there has to be seen to be no conflict of interest in order for the inquiry and any result of it to be seen by the public to actually withstand any scrutiny and criticism,” said Mussenden.
“You can’t appoint a commissioner who has already played his card and expressed his view. That seems to me that the combination that we are building a building that is to be named after him (a $1.3m complex at BFA Field), of which he has been involved in, as well as his comment right now, actually should exclude him from the commission.
“I feel that the people that I have spoken about would not be able to withstand the scrutiny that should be afforded to commissioners and therefore should perhaps be excluded.”