By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) presidency hopeful, Barbara Coates, has responded swiftly to allegations levelled against her by sitting president Everton Gonsalves who said that a number of plans she put before clubs during her ongoing campaign are ideas that were pitched by him during past executive meetings.
In an interview with Observer media, Coates, who also wished Gonsalves belated birthday greetings, said there are others who could verify that such meetings never took place and that the former national striker was being “economical” with the truth.
“There are other persons who are on the slate with me who can verify that it is totally inaccurate and that he is being totally economical with the truth. For one, we have never, as an executive, been able to say ‘let’s sit down and strategise and plan together as an executive, how we are going to move forward’, but my team and I have been doing that. In fact, when we have been in executive meetings and even something as simple as asking to attend certain workshops, we were told it was not for us,” she said.
Coates is the only person to have, thus far, publicly declared intentions to challenge the incumbent when constitutionally due elections are held this year.
The ABFA floor member has also been pitching her plans to member clubs, with hopes of gathering support ahead of the anticipated vote.
But Gonsalves, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, said Coates is using slightly altered versions of ideas he would have pitched in past meetings.
“A number of the plans presented by the opposition are tweaked versions of the Everton ‘Batow’ Gonsalves plans and you’re not an executive member but she is, so she is privy to my plans. So all she had to do is to tweak them and present them as her own, which they call it in other areas, plagiarism, but I am not going to get down to that. I would want them to have their own plans if they sat on the outside but they sit in executive meetings and they hear the president’s plans and they go out and tweak them,” he said.
The former national and Villa Lions striker added that he has not been actively campaigning to the clubs, but rather asking the clubs for feedback and concerns.
“I am not telling clubs what I am going to do, I am listening to clubs and asking them to make their input into what we are going to do, and that is how I have done it. We — there is no I, just we, but they are speaking about I — but where were they when Antigua was banned by CFU? It was Everton Gonsalves who had to go to Jack Warner to lift that ban. I can go on and on when they sat idly by being afraid to confront even FIFA. And what was good for Antigua and Barbuda? It was Everton Gonsalves,” he said.
Elections are constitutionally due this month, but have been postponed to an unknown date due to restrictions on gatherings over 25. The FA was recently reminded by FIFA that its Constitution does not allow for the hosting of a virtual congress.