BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 25, 2020– In the midst of a stalemate in the proceedings of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Elective Congress on Saturday morning at the Marion Jones Sports Complex conference room, the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) Electoral Committee representative walked out of the meeting before the election votes were cast; so that any continuation of the election procedure was effectively unconstitutional. The PLB Elective Congress will therefore have to be reconvened at a later date following an investigation by the FFB.
No date has been announced yet for a reconvening of the PLB Elective Congress, but PLB elections must be completed in time to select delegates for the upcoming FFB elections. In the FFB executive elections, each of seven (7) district associations gets two (2) votes; and the PLB gets seven (7) votes, for a total of twenty-one (21) votes. The seven district association elections have already been completed.
All indications are that there is once again strife within the football family, and, like the bad old days of not too long ago, it appears that “dehn fighting for power” again. It’s all about securing votes in this year’s football executive elections – from the district associations, to the Premier League of Belize, and finally the Football Federation of Belize. With a standing FIFA budget allocation of BZE $1 million per year, in addition to special project funds that also run in the millions, it appears that there is incentive for FFB incumbents to try and maintain their positions. But it is still “association” football, and no individual owns any position, which must all be subject to voting by members of the football family hierarchy.
There have been rumors and social media references to possible meddling by FFB officials in the recent completed district association elections, in order to ensure that persons favorable to the incumbent FFB leaders are elected to the district association executives. This has been clearly demonstrated here in the Belize District, where the December 18 BDFA elective congress was declared null and void. Another attempt was made on February 27 of this year; and the repeated difficulties in getting agreement on which clubs should be allowed to vote, resulted in another postponement. Finally, amidst repeated cries of foul play in disenfranchisement of the 1st Division clubs, elections were held and an executive was installed, one reportedly favorable to incumbent FFB President Sergio Chuc and his slate in the upcoming FFB elections.
But it is not over yet. A press conference (turned teleconference following the highway flooding) last Thursday afternoon featured individuals from both the PLB and the FFB, and it seems that the plot is getting thicker. Both in the PLB and the FFB, individuals attempting to contest the upcoming elections were facing hurdles placed in front of them by the incumbents; and the fingers point to PLB President, Ian Haylock; and FFB President, Sergio Chuc.
In the case of the PLB, former P.G. Freedom Fighters manager Clifford King, who is contesting the post of PLB President, claimed that he had to put up a real battle to get his slate nominations accepted. It is a tight numbers game. Seven clubs participated in the last PLB tournament; but two clubs, Freedom Fighters and Police United, who had been granted a requested leave of absence from competition, are still officially members of the PLB; but King says that President Haylock is trying to block them from voting in the coming elections. If Haylock succeeds in blocking Freedom Fighters and Police United from voting, his slate only needs 4 of the 7 remaining clubs to support a return to office.
In Saturday’s scenario, according to reports, President Haylock insisted that elections must precede the reinstating of Freedom Fighters (FF) and Police United (PU) into the Congress; King and his slate contend that the clubs never left the Congress, but their teams only sat out the recent competitions. Three of the sitting 7 clubs on Saturday were in favor of accepting FF and PU before the voting, which indicated that together they would make a majority of 5 out of 9, and thus a victory for the King led slate in the elections. According to reports, Haylock was adamant in proceeding with elections without FF and PU, at which the representatives of Bandits, BDF and Placencia got up and left the meeting. But, surprisingly, one sole BDF member remained, which seemed to indicate he might be willing to vote in favor of Haylock’s slate, against the wishes of his other club representatives. At that point, with the PLB executive apparently hell bent on proceeding with elections without the presence of FF and PU, the FFB appointed Electoral Committee representative decided he had had enough, and he got up and left the gathering.
According to PLB Manager, Wilhelm Miguel, the “Election still went ahead, but by Statutes they needed the Electoral Committee for it to have the FFB blessing. An investigation by the FFB will be held to determine the entire matter.”
Well, the FFB has its own set of problems. In the teleconference last Thursday, no less than the most accomplished Belize international footballer and current FFB Executive member, Shane Orio informed the media that his candidacy for FFB Member is at this time being undermined by no less than the President, Sergio Chuc, who he claimed had personally orchestrated a plot to have his nomination nullified. (Is there a Bandits vs Verdes aspect to this situation? Chuc is from Cayo, and was a former owner of Verdes.) Shane said he had already been nominated by both the Belmopan and Cayo associations; when he found out that Chuc had secured a signed Cayo association form and facilitated its use for nominating another individual (name withheld here), effectively spoiling his nomination, since an association is only allowed to nominate one candidate for each post, otherwise both nominations are null and void. Shane said he has appealed to the Electoral Committee to have his name reinstated on the ballot.
Things are not sounding too cozy inside the football family right now, although as of today we have not seen any press releases from either the PLB or the FFB on the recent fiasco. What we have heard are unconfirmed reports that there may be a law suit for defamation connected to one name mentioned in last week’s teleconference.
Aside from the now too familiar jockeying for position in the football elections, the teleconference also produced some troubling allegations brought forward by Belmopan executive member Dean Flowers, who is contesting a PLB executive post on the challenging slate led by former Freedom Fighters manager, Clifford King. According to revelations by Flowers, a trained accountant, while there may be no proof of “misappropriation” of funds by the FFB, there are strong indications of “miss-allocation” of FIFA funds, and he has shared these and other concerns with FIFA.
Today, FFB Communications Director Yashmin Juan revealed that “The FFB executive is yet to meet to decide on some matters regarding the PLB election that took place last weekend.” Moreover, she also confirmed that the FFB congress/elections, previously scheduled for July 4, has been postponed to August 22.
Indications are that Flowers’ information may have pricked the ear of FIFA, who, according to the FFB Communications Director, “want to be here as observers of the Elections to verify that everything is FIFA Fair Play! So that means after the PGIA opens on August 15.” She also suggested that “FFB may be issuing new announcements, depending on what FIFA decides, if FIFA orders an audit of FFB finances, and freezes all funding!”
It had seemed smooth sailing for the Sergio Chuc led FFB since he became president at the end of 2017; but with his term of office nearing its end, there are questions arising, and it appears that FIFA representatives will soon be here to help set the football house in order once again.