By Neto Baptiste
The timing and method used in appointing former national and Villa Lions defender Sowerby Gomes as the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) new technical director, is flawed and should be revisited.
This is according to former national coach, Rowan Benjamin, who first acknowledged that Gomes meets all of the requirements needed in a good technical director but insists that according to the body’s constitution, due process was not followed.
“Now, these are major decisions and the president chose to make these decisions within the cycle of an election, and that’s number one. Number two, in terms of the executive members. There was no meeting so the whole process was flawed and if I just say to you that from the ABFA constitution which the president always speaks highly of and is says ‘powers of the executive committee’ and one of the powers is ‘shall appoint the coaches for the representative teams and other technical staff’. Now there was no meeting of the executive. The last meeting they had was in January, so who made the decision and where are the minutes for this decision,” he said.
On Friday, the FA announced that Gomes will serve in the post left vacant following the passing of Rolston Williams in October, 2020. His appointment will run for three years. Also appointed on Friday was former national goalkeeper and CONCACAF and FIFA Referee Fitness Instructor, Kelesha Antoine, as head of the referees’ department.
Benjamin believes that in the case of Gomes, the appointment raises conflict of interest concerns given that Gomes is also a vice president of the Aston Villa FC, of which the ABFA’s head Everton Gonsalves, is the president.
“Let’s say that the executive duly convenes a meeting to discuss the appointment; Everton Gonsalves, because he is the president of Villa, he is supposed to excuse himself from that particular executive meeting. The issue here is not with Mr Gomes; the issue here is the proper procedure that was not being followed, and it’s a serious breach of the constitution,” he said.
But former general secretary of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and a member of the Aston Villa FC, Neil Cochrane, disagrees with Benjamin’s sentiments, stating that there is nothing within the constitution to support his claims.
“He cannot point to anything in the constitution that speaks about the president not being able to make a decision at the end of four years. There is nothing in the constitution that speaks against him being able to do that. Also, there is nothing in the constitution that requires the president, beyond the appointment of the general secretary, to seek the approval of the executive. That is constitutional and that is fact,” he said.
“Even in whatever writings have been sent in relation to this issue, no article of the constitution has been quoted to say that you were in breach of article of section five, section this, or that, of the constitution because there is none and I just believe that Porridge [Benjamin} just continues to look for everything that is negative to speak about,” he added.
The ABFA were scheduled to host constitutionally due elections in March this year, but were forced to delay the vote due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is still unclear as to when the elections will be held. Gonsalves is being challenged by executive member Barbara Coates for the association’s top spot.