Ivan Persaud, a vice president of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), says that a perusal of the GFF Constitution has found several irregularities in the ruling by the GFF Congress which recently suspended executives of the Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) for deliberately ignoring its directive.
Two high-ranking members of the UDFA, President Sharma Solomon and vice president Collie Hercules, were slapped with eight and five year bans respectively after the UDFA refused to heed the directive of the GFF Congress not to stage its GT Beer final on New Year’s Day.
Other members of the UDFA were slapped with five year bans.
The UDFA is holding out that the bans are unconstitutional and has stated publicly that they will continue with the business of football administration in the area.
“The UDFA challenges the reckless and unconstitutional decisions of the GFF since the entire process is riddled with violations of the rules that guide the conduct of the business of the GFF,” Solomon stated at a press conference held last week in the boardroom of the Critchlow Labour College.
Persaud, a former national footballer, who hails from the Mining Town of Linden, said that he had written GFF General Secretary Noel Adonis seeking to be informed by what means was the Extraordinary Congress summoned but did not receive a reply.
Persaud said according to the GFF Constitution an Extraordinary Congress can be called by the Executive Committee if four of the six members of that committee so decide or if one third of the Members of the federation make such a request in writing.
Persaud, quoting from the GFF Constitution said: “The Executive Committee may convene an Extraordinary Congress at any time. The Executive Committee shall convene an Extraordinary Congress if one third of the Members of the federation make such a request in writing. The request shall specify the items on the agenda and the Extraordinary Congress should be held within three months of receipt of the request. If an Extraordinary Congress is not convened, the Members who request may convene the Congress themselves.
The members shall be notified of the place, date, and agenda one month before the date of the Extraordinary Congress.”
Matthias, on Saturday said that the Extraordinary Congress was mandated by the Executive Committee adding that article 18 of the GFF Constitution states that the Congress is the supreme and legislative body.
“After listening to Collie Hercules’ explanation at an Executive Meeting held January 10th in the GFF Boardroom as to why the UDFA and himself would have disobeyed the directive of the GFF Congress he was asked to recuse himself and in his absence the executive (Ivan Persaud, Keith O’Jeer, Vanessa Dickenson and myself along with the GS (General Secretary) deliberated.
“Three things were agreed one, that the directive of the Congress was not adhered to, two, the party (UDFA) should be written to and in that letter they should be reminded of the Congress’s directive of December 14; told that they had disobeyed the Congress’s directive and three for them to show just cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.
“The second agreement prompted by Persaud was for the matter not to be dealt with by the executive despite the fact that the constitution authorized the executive to suspend the UDFA with immediate effect but for it to be addressed by the Congress,” Matthias said.
Persaud also said that according to the GFF Constitution one month’s notice should be given before the Extraordinary Congress is held but Matthias said that this was not always possible.
“According to Article 27 of the Constitution, the Executive Committee may convene an Extraordinary Congress at any time,” he said adding…”If you have a serious matter to be tried you can’t wait a month. The month is in relation to when and or if one third of the membership requests an Extraordinary Congress,” he explained adding that has been the interpretation of the constitution and the custom and practice.
According to Persaud, “The Guyana Football Federation has ad hoc bodies and judicial bodies. The judicial bodies are the Disciplinary Committee for the settlement of grieveances and disputes and the Appeals Committee. For decisions of the Disciplinary Committee if you are following the FIFA code as you should, then you should pass the baton to the Disciplinary Committee which is why Alfred King abstained.”
King is president of the Guyana Football Referees Council.
Persaud added that the matter should have gone to the Disciplinary Committee which should have met with the parties following which they would have submitted recommendations to the Congress for its decision.
“The disciplinary code speaks to how you organize for the settlement. If the GFF has a problem with the UDFA, they must forward that matter and their grievance with the UDFA to the Disciplinary Committee and ask the Disciplinary Committee to investigate and report back to them with recommendations and they will then make a determination. Congress will make a decision after the Disciplinary Committee would have made its recommendations,” Persaud argued.
However, Matthias said that the GFF Constitution also makes provision for the suspension of a member.
“Article 13.1 says that the Congress is responsible for suspending a member.
“The Executive Committee may, however, suspend a member that seriously violates its obligations as a member with immediate effect. The suspension shall last until the next Congress unless the executive committee has lifted it in the meantime.
“While article 13 authorizes the Executive Committee to suspend a member that seriously violates its obligations as a member with immediate effect, it was the same Executive Committee that unanimously agreed for the matter to be dealt with by the Congress, and Persaud who was quoted by the media as admitting that the Executive (Committee) unanimously agreed for the matter to be addressed by the Congress,” declared Matthias.
Matthias said that it has been the custom and the practice that when you seriously violate a directive of the Congress an Extraordinary Congress is called.
“This position was obtained during the sanction of the GFA under the presidency of Troy Mendonca and it was an Extraordinary Congress in 2011 by which Georgetown was suspended again,” he argued.
Persaud is also alleging that the UDFA was also not given the right of appeal to which Matthias responded.
“The right of appeal was enshrined in the constitution. They have the right to appeal. They have to write the federation and appeal.”
Matthias also spoke of the allegation by the UDFA officials that due process was not followed as they were not given the right to be heard.
“They turned up at the Congress, Solomon, Hercules and Terrence Mitchell, a Congress which they in advance had deemed unconstitutional; told the Congress that it was unconstitutional signed the attendance sheet and walked out.
“Now how could you say that you were not given a chance to be heard?” he questioned.
Matthias said that the UDFA was written to asking them to state why they should not be sanctioned for disobeying the directive of the GFF Congress.
“….You went ahead against the ruling of the Congress because you played on the first. We want to know from you, why is it that you think that you should not be punished.
And we expect a response by Thursday close of play,” said Matthias adding “… by Thursday, Sharma Solomon did send a response on behalf of the UDFA a 10 or 12 point response,” he added.
Persaud also raised the issue of the GFF allowing one sub association (in this case the GFA) the right to stage a tournament whilst denying a sister sub association, the right to stage its tournament.
“By law they have the same rights. Two separate tournaments, two sub associations, both equal and yet one does not have the right. If it was a GFF matter that was different. Natural justice says that you are being vindictive to me,” opined Persaud.
“When you look at it in that context the GFF should not have gotten involved, that is not Fair Play,” he added.
However, Matthias argued that the decision would have been discriminatory if it was a situation of only two association staging finals.
“This was not the case. This was a national tournament of seven associations and 32 teams. All seven associations including the UDFA had signed on to the rules of the tournament and agreed to share profits in an equitable manner,” he explained.
Additionally, Matthias said that the GFA requested permission in June of last year while the UDFA request came in December.
“When the UDFA wrote requesting permission to stage the GT Beer tournament, they were granted permission even though the dates were tentative and not specified,” Matthias said adding that at that time they had no knowledge that there would be a clash of dates on New Year’s Day.
He said that on December 30th, the UDFA wrote the GFF General Secretary stating that the GFA Banks Beer Cup final will most likely not be concluded on January 1 and that given the possibility of the final being postponed the UDFA was making an application for the hosting of its tournament final on January 1 at the Mackenzie Sports Club, ground.
Mathias ended by saying that prior to the staging of the final the UDFA had been written to and informed that should they disobey the Congress they would have faced disciplinary measures provided for t in the GFF Constitution.
The situation in the GFF needs urgent attention as the GFF Executive committee comprises six persons and at the present time there are only three functioning members who can make decisions while for decisions to be final there is a requirement for four persons in accordance with the constitution. Absent from the Executive Committee are Messers Rawleston Adams (resigned) Collie Hercules (suspended) and Ivan Persaud (recused).