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Fear factor

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When world football governing body FIFA unveiled its Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) in latter part of the 1990’s,{{more}} it was and still is welcomed by member nations, especially those like St Vincent and the Grenadines, without another revenue stream.

Each national association, including St Vincent and the Grenadines, receives US$1million per four-year cycle, while each of the six confederations receives US$10 million.

From the monies designated to the federations, for example CONCACAF, St Vincent and the Grenadines can also benefit through additional funding for developmental and technical courses.

Additionally, we, like other countries in the FIFA membership, can get US$400,000 as funding for goal projects, within the four-year cycle.

The FAP is designed to motivate and empower the associations/federations and confederations to organise development programmes that meet their needs and strengthen football and its administration in the long term.

One of the keystones of these regulations is the obligation for each association receiving FAP support to submit to an independent audit. Established to encourage member associations to demonstrate sound financial management and transparency, this requirement also enables FIFA to ensure that these resources are used appropriately.

Specifically, FAP regulations allow FIFA to ask member associations to submit to three different audits: an annual FAP audit by an independent auditor, a central audit commissioned by FIFA and carried out by a FIFA-appointed central auditor and a statutory audit report by an external independent auditor.

FIFA is stating tongue-in-cheek, telling all who are recipients of its funding that who pays the piper calls the tune.

That is the nature of the guarded protection and accountability measures FIFA has put in place.

Also in reciprocity, the world governing body expects nothing less than professional garb to be worn by those in charge of the sport in the respective countries.

However, we have seen several members of the FIFA family not being able to live up to the requirements.

Just across from us, the Barbados Football Federation has had its goal project put on hold for not getting the appropriate approval from the planning authorities.

Some years ago, FIFA swooped down on Antigua and Barbuda and had a shut-off of its funding because of issues in administration of the sport there.

Whilst, in the main, we have come out unscathed in terms of accounting for the funds, one cannot leave anything to chance and every effort should be employed to be as sanitary as possible in accounting for the funds that are channelled here.

That does not mean that we are unblemished and are experts on efficient stewardship.

For instance, our current goal project of a technical centre at the Brighton Playing Field is not only behind schedule, but St Vincent and the Grenadines is on its first project.

This is in part resultant of a delay in the first intended project, which was stalled because of some legal tangles.

We are in line for others. However, unless we move swiftly on the present one, we can miss the boat for the next cycle.

But while we linger, others within the regional are on goal project three and four.

St Vincent and the Grenadines should now be mindful that some of the things which are unfolding within the operations of FIFA show they are becoming more vigilant in the overseeing of funding, as they want to see returns for their input.

Our custodians of the sport should recognise that some technical courses are coming through the conduits and are not coming directly to them.

Likewise, the sport here cannot be allowed to just evolve into a farcical exhibition of competitions and left to wander into space.

One fears that unless we start getting it right off the field, the screws will be tightened on us.

The worst-case scenario is for FIFA to sever that umbilical cord from us, which will spell death for the sport here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The onus, then, is on those who are in the seat of leadership to endeavour to do their best in carrying the sport to the next level, as it cannot be business as usual.

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