By Neto Baptiste
General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Rohan Hector, has cautioned that a portion of the Covid Relief Fund, already released by the sport’s world governing body FIFA, must be used for the safe return of the sport once given the all-clear by the proper authorities.
Hector, while speaking on Observer Radio’s Connecting With Dave show, was responding to questions as to how the FA arrived at the EC $8,000 that will be distributed to the clubs across the board.
“If we get a go-ahead from the authorities, then obviously we have to hold some of the funds for if football starts back in the next couple of months, next couple of weeks, before maybe the second tranche is available, then we have to be able to make the necessary steps for football to return,” he said.
“The state of emergency in place now comes to an end in October. If the authorities give the go ahead … to play football again, then we have to be ready to input all of the necessary measures that enable a safe return to football,” he added.
President of the ABFA, Everton Gonsalves, supported Hector’s statement as he revealed that only a portion of the FIFA Covid Relief Funds have been received by the FA along with strict guidelines as to how these funds should be distributed.
“Only US $500,000 out of the $1 million for Covid relief has been disbursed by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association along with the special relief for the women. There is another tranche coming in 2021 and there are all the details in the regulations that we have attached to the application form that every club has, and it is self-explanatory that the monies are to be used in a particular way and that has been made clear, but other persons out there who are perennial distorters and distractors would want to give the impression that it is not so,” he said.
The former national striker went on to add that the football association’s executive are the ones who will make the ultimate decision as to how much of the funds are allocated to clubs.
“It quite rightly says that due to the impact of Covid, FIFA has determined to assist the member associations with a significant amount of funds and for it to determine who in the wider football community benefits. I want you to be clear on that, the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association, the executive members, has that authority [to determine how the funds] are disbursed,” he said.
The Liberta Sports Club has raised a number of questions regarding the process and also the make-up of a steering committee put in place by the AFBA to manage the process and make recommendations to the FA.
The sports club has also rejected the proposed EC $8,000 payout and has advocated for a much larger payout. They have also called for the payouts to be staggered throughout the divisions with the Premier Division clubs receiving a larger amount than those in the First and Second divisions.