Volume No. 2 Issue No. 27 - Wednesday January 30, 2008|
Media coverage of the DFA affair
By Rupert Sorhaindo
Coverage in the local media, of the controversy surrounding decisions taken by FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, to remove the elected Dominica Football Association (DFA) from office and have it replaced by a “normalization committee”, has fallen woefully short of what is expected of our news editors, sports “reporters”, “journalists” and media “managers”.
Jack Warner is accused of meddling in the affairs of the DFA.
Apart from the usual reporting on the event, and repeating of the statements made by the principal parties involved, only the Sun newspaper seems to have made an effort to go beyond the headlines; this in spite of the many serious, logical questions that begged to be asked - especially in light of the very well publicized questionable conduct of Jack Warner and many of his colleagues in FIFA; as well as the not so secret maneuverings of elements within the past DFA administration.
One would have expected any serious sports reporter or journalist covering football, to avail himself of the readily available sources of information, so as to be in a position to analyze the disturbing development and place it in some perspective that would assist readers or listeners in appreciating the broader context of Mr. Warner’s conduct.
It is therefore most disappointing, and even unpardonable that our local media practitioners who report or do commentaries on local sports, would not have made an effort to go beyond repeating the statements made by Mr. Warner and the DFA President, to place the events unfolding on the local football scene in the broader context of integrity and transparency in sports management.
In this Age of Information Technology, any sports journalist has virtually instant access to volumes of information on any subject under the sun, at his finger tips! And certainly in the case of FIFA and Jack Warner, enough reliable information would have been available to anyone with nothing more than an interest in the promotion of integrity and transparency in the administration of football – nationally, regionally and internationally, to have prompted a beyond “who-said-what” story or commentary.
Interestingly enough, Lasana Liburd of the Trinidad Express newspaper was quick in producing a story on the Dominica situation, in which he provided background information about Jack Warner’s efforts at barring
Antigua from participation in World Cup qualifiers, because the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association, for apparently very valid
reasons, had refused to settle a claim for US$177,000 submitted by a discredited former ABFA official.
The details of the scandalous Antigua saga have been exposed by relentless anti-corruption crusader,
Andrew Jennings, and are available on the internet (www.transparencyinsport.org).
Andrew Jennings, winner of the Sports Journalists Award has also weighed in on the DFA situation. In a story appearing in the January 20th issue of the Sunday Herald, an award-winning independent newspaper of Scotland, Jennings places the DFA’s appeal to Lord Sebastian Coe’s independent Ethics Commission over Jack Warner’s drastic decision, in the context of what he sees as an emerging trend in the Caribbean, citing developments in Antigua and Dominica as indications of Mr. Warner’s “plan” for domination being thwarted.
Our local sports journalists would serve Dominican football well, were they to investigate the following very pertinent questions, and report their findings to the football players and administrators and the general public:
- Was reasonable notice of Mr. Warner’s meeting with the DFA and stakeholders given to the DFA executive - especially given the drastic action that was obviously premeditated, and the time required for notification of stakeholder representatives?
- Were certain individuals privy to the information about the impending meeting, even before the DFA Executive was notified? And was this a calculated move to ensure that the faction including Mr. Warner’s loyalists and DFA antagonists would have had an advantage of numbers at the meeting of “stakeholders”?
- Who ascertained that the names appearing on the register were bona fide members/delegates of the DFA?
- Did Mr. Warner summon the DFA staff to a meeting from which he deliberately excluded the elected DFA executive members? And if so, is that acceptable?
- Did FIFA or Jack Warner ever communicate to the DFA any opinions on some of the legal issues that it sought guidance on – relating to the status of suspended members and clubs, and other matters?
- Did FIFA ever respond to the DFA’s concerns about the perceived partiality and unprofessionalism of FIFA Development Officer, and Warner’s compatriot (or as some would characterize him, “hatchet-man”) Harold Taylor?
- Did the DFA inform FIFA about its concern’s about a former official’s misappropriation of the Association’s assets? And was that official subsequently selected to serve on Mr. Warner’s “normalization” Committee?
And if that is the case, how could Mr. Warner have stated that one of the reasons for his decision had to do with the DFA’s “weak financial accountability”?
And further, why would he have threatened the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association with expulsion because they had refused to accede to his order to settle a claim of US$177,000 submitted by a former discredited official, on the grounds that the claim was not legitimate and was not supported by the relevant documentation?
And what of Mr. Warner’s own financial dealings with regard to 2006 World Cup tickets and other well publicized matters? Would he have the moral authority to discipline an association on grounds of “weak financial accountability”?
- Was the timing of Mr. Warner’s actions calculated to place the DFA under duress, considering the short time leading to the World Cup qualifier against Barbados and the preceding friendly against Guadeloupe; and that the DFA was in the process of preparing for the games?
And was this fair to the players and officials? Has anyone attempted to determine the impact which Mr. Warner’s decision had on the morale of the players in their friendly encounter with Guadeloupe – quite apart from the upbeat pre-game statements made by the coach and spokespersons for the “normalization committee”?
- Did Mr. Warner act professionally and with respect for a member of the FIFA family when he sought to embarrass the DFA president at a forum with the media, insinuating that he “was not all there”?
- Had the “normalization” committee, and the DFA for that matter, received official confirmation from FIFA, within a day of Jack Warner’s visit, that it had accepted Warner’s recommendations to disband the DFA and have it replaced by a “normalization” committee?
And if not, why the indecent haste in having members of the committee appear in the media as spokespersons for the DFA?
- Has that official confirmation been received by DFA and the “committee”, to date?
Undoubtedly, there are many other relevant and legitimate questions that need to be asked and answered; “For the Good of all our Sports”; and according to two popular 2008 calypsonians, we need a few “GOOD MEN” and trustworthy “REPRESENTATIVES” to lead us in this exercise.
Editor’s note: Rupert Sorhaindo is a former minister of education and sports, educator and executive member of the Dominica Olympic Committee.