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Jun 4, 2020

Is There Trouble in F.F.B. Over COVID-19 Relief?

The effects of the COVID pandemic is being felt everywhere and sport is no exception. Early in the crisis, sporting activities had to be cancelled because of the limit of numbers allowed at sporting events. It meant that gate receipts disappeared. FIFA came up with one million dollars for the F.F.B. to cover costs until the end of the year.  But district associations say they have not had their fair share and are asking where the money is. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in all sectors, including sports.  In Belize, the F.F.B. has also felt the economic pinch of the novel coronavirus and concerns are being raised by those in the football world about relief assistance that has been made available by FIFA, the international governing body for soccer.


Sergio Chuc

Sergio Chuc, President, Football Federation of Belize

“The finances of the F.F.B. are very good.  I think we have not been in a stronger position for many years.  Our finances are quite in order and FIFA is happy with the way how we have been handling it.  Our last two audits done in country by Baker Tilly Hulse was clear and the audit done by FIFA, by the BDO, gave us a very healthy accounting bill.  So financially, the federation is on very strong, has a very strong foundation.  Coming to COVID-19, it has affected us tremendously because we had to put all our tournaments on hold so that we could protect our players from this deadly virus.”


All players have effectively been sidelined as a result of the contagion, but district associations are questioning the Football Federation of Belize’s expenditure of monies that were made available by FIFA for COVID relief.


Sergio Chuc

“The way how FIFA funds its members association,, the smaller member associations that fully depend on the financing of FIFA, like Belize, is we get funding twice a year, in January and in July.  We get five hundred thousand US dollars in January and five hundred thousand in July if all your accounts are in order and your reporting is done, then you get the additional five hundred thousand.  So in 2020, we got our five hundred thousand early in January and then in March when the COVID virus started affecting the football world globally, FIFA sat down and said how we could assist and one of the ways how they came about saying that we could assist the member associations rapidly would be to not require all the documentations and all the correspondence that we generally would have to put in.”


And therein lies the concern of the Belmopan Football Association.  In a letter written to General Secretary Earl Jones, direct reference is being made to the second installment of operational funds for 2020, a total of one million Belize dollars, as well as any remaining entitlement for 2019 and 2020.  Those funds were to be used to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19, particularly the financial and operational obligations for staff and other third parties.


Sergio Chuc

“Basically, they said we are going to advance you the second five hundred thousand dollars which would have come in July, they are going to give us as early as, I believe we got it, I believe it was the first week of May.  So we‘ve had it for almost a month now, but that is the operational funds for the second half of the year.  There has been no money coming directly for COVID relief.  There has been the five hundred thousand U.S. dollars, which is a million Belize, that came as operational funds that of course we could use for the day-to-day operations of the federation.  Because there are not tournaments going on, we have savings here and there which we initially used sixty thousand dollars out of that savings to give hampers to some of the referees, some of the players, some of the people that the district associations thought that were in most necessity, they needed it the most.  They decided who they wanted to issue it.  It was an average of, I‘d say about seventy-five hampers per each association.”


On Tuesday, the Stann Creek District Football Association, as well as the Belize District Football Association wrote to the General Secretary inquiring about the termination of four employees, as well as the furloughing of sixteen others, reportedly on the same day that F.F.B. held a meeting to inform of its plan to invest almost two and a half million dollars in a bleachers project.  F.F.B. President Sergio Chuc insists that no one has been sent home.


Sergio Chuc

“Nobody has been laid off.  These people are fully employed by the Football Federation of Belize, their time continues to run.  It so happened that they have been home since, I believe, the middle of March.  We paid them the end of the month, we paid them the end of the following month, the fifteenth, we paid them the end of April, we paid them in May on the fifteenth.  We paid them the end of May and we continue making the payments and even right here on the fifteenth they will receive another payment.  So they continue.  It‘s just between the fifteenth of June and the beginning of August they anything to do.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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