‘I followed the directive of the clubs’: Coates abandons pledge to write to FIFA and CONCACAF

Floor Member and ABFA presidential hopeful Barbara Coates (right) is seen here with president of the ABFA, Everton Gonsalves (centre) and General Secretary Rohan Hector.
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By Neto Baptiste

Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) presidential hopeful, Barbara Coates, said her intention to write to both FIFA and CONCACAF regarding the recent appointments of two high-level technical staff by the body has been abandoned.

Coates, who intends to challenge sitting president Everton Gonsalves when elections are held this year, had written to the ABFA in July questioning the appointments of national defender Sowerby Gomes as technical director of football and former national goalkeeper Kelesha Antoine as head of the referees department.

“What we decided to do was to go back to the clubs and speak to them about it and the feedback that we got was that they, too, saw that it was done incorrectly but they are saying don’t write to FIFA because you know, sometimes that brings a negative connotation to the whole aspect of football. We have listened to the clubs because, ultimately, they are the head because they make up the congress and we have since decided to hold off on that,” she said.

Coates had argued that the appointments were not valid as a number of executive members were not involved in the process.

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.

The current ABFA floor member said that although the vote has been delayed indefinitely, she is confident of doing well.

“Yes, the campaign has taken on a longer period than we would have wanted to or that I personally would have wanted it to go on but that doesn’t mean there is not some positives where that is concerned. Even for the elections [because] we have reached out to the Ministry of Health and what they have said to us is that yes, you can’t have the elections down at the Multipurpose but the stadium has already been inspected and certified for large gatherings and the elections can be held there,” Coates said.

The FIFA communique, however, went on to stipulate that the vote should be held as soon as government protocols allow, and that its representatives will be on the ground as observers.

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