By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, has hit back against claims that he sought permission from the sport’s world governing body, FIFA, to host a virtual election.
FIFA, in April, had written to the ABFA reminding the body that its constitution does not allow for the hosting of virtual elections. The ABFA vote is constitutionally due this month, but government restriction on large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic does not allow for the hosting of a physical meeting.
Gonsalves said that the accusations that he sought permission to host the vote virtually are false.
“The virtual congress that we would have had would have been our annual congress, giving account of our stewardship which is comparable to none. So I did not ask to have the congress virtually because I would have had to have given notice and you can ask any club because they never received notice of any election. They might have received our financial year-end, which completes on December 31 every year, so we would have had a financial statement, audited of course, to our members in relation to December 31, 2020, which we still had to deliver. I would not have wanted to deliver that during an electoral congress,” he said.
While the FA has hosted a number of virtual meetings since the start of the pandemic, its constitution stipulates that the body’s vote to elect a new executive must be held via secret ballot.
The FIFA communique stipulates, however, that the vote should be held as soon as government protocols allow, and that its representatives will be on the ground as observers.
Gonsalves said he will continue to take advice from the international body.
“I await the sound advice of Mr Infantino [FIFA president], Mr Montagliani [CONCACAF president] and Mr Harris [CFU president], as they indicate to the member associations who are dealing with these sort of situations as to when is the right time,” he said.
Government recently announced the pending return of major team sports with sports minister Daryll Matthew announcing recently that associations must apply to the ministry for permission to host competitions.
The applications, which should include proposed protocols, would then be vetted by both the sports and health ministries before consent is given.