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Jun 6, 2017

Did Government Pay Footballers with B.D.F. Money?

The Belize Defence Force is under fire tonight. News Five has obtained documents showing invoices for fifty thousand dollars worth of payments of allowances made to members of the team in 2009 when they were Belize Premier Football League champions. But were these men actual soldiers in the Force, or just paid to look like it? And is this another case of the misuse of public funds?  News Five’s sources say regular members of the Force, including volunteers, are upset that the Government chose to spend budgeted money for the upkeep of the Force on the football team. They argue that if one wants to pay for civilians, the likes of Deon McCauley, now of the Atlanta Silverbacks, and Woodrow West of Honduras Progreso to play for the team, they ought to be either working as B.D.F., or paid from a different source.  The players got generally more money than a regular enlisted or volunteer soldier would.  The players as well as coaches were paid for services to the team in the month of August, 2009, and later for time they spent on “training” at Price Barracks, Ladyville.  But what exactly were they being paid for and by whom and was such payments legally budgeted for? That question remains to be answered. Minister of National Security at the time, Carlos Perdomo, was unavailable for comment today; however, we have sent him an email of questions to be answered. Likewise, current C.E.O. in the Ministry Felix Enriquez could not be reached. As for current Minister of Defense John Saldivar, he told us in a message that he was not in charge at the time – he succeeded Perdomo in 2009 – and that his own team, the Belmopan Bandits, were not in existence. In the case of the B.D.F., Brigadier General and Commander David Jones could not detail what happened before his time but said that current members of the team are paid through their service in the Volunteer element of the Force.

 

On the Phone: Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defence Force

“Well, I wouldn’t know how they used to be paid [at] that time; but I know that the B.D.F. does hire players and they get pulled into the Volunteers; once they become a Volunteer member then they get paid as a Volunteer soldier and they serve the B.D.F.; so before any person is playing on the football team, they have to be a volunteer soldier.”

 

Reporter

“And in that case they would be paid through that arrangement, you’re saying?”

 

On the Phone: Brig. Gen. David Jones

“Yes; as a volunteer soldier.”

 

We also spoke to acting president of the Football Federation of Belize Marlon Kuylen, who noted that members of the national football team, the Jaguars, are paid stipends through the F.F.B.’s resources; but he was not able to speak to individual teams beyond the fact that each team has its own funds – from ticket sales to games and the like – through which players are paid.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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