The first vice-president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF), on Tuesday, declined elevation to the presidency which became vacant that day with the two-year ban that FIFA imposed on Venold Coombs.
Otashie Spring said that he was not shirking his responsibility when he declined elevation to the presidency as the SVGFF constitution provides.
He told a press conference in Kingstown that he acted in the best interest of the sport when he gave way to second Vice-president Marvin Fraser, who agreed to act as president until the next elections, due in 2019.
“One of the first things when I got into football at this level, I was advised by our dear president Mr. Venold Coombs that when you are in public office that you always strive to do your best no matter what,” Spring told an SVGFF press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday.
“And he indicated to me that one of the ways in actually doing such, one of the profound steps in doing such, is to ensure that whatever you do, you put the organisation and those who are leading, their interest comes first,” Spring said in explaining his decision.
He said it is his view that it is in the best interest of the SVGFF that Marvin Fraser “carries forward the effort”.
“It is not a decline or shunning, so to speak, of responsibility, but in all honesty, I found [in] my comrade a more experienced person to charter (sic) the course in this turbulous (sic) time…” Spring said, adding that his decision has the full support of the executive.
“And so, I would like to make it clear that my support is unwavering and a hundred per cent behind our acting president, Mr. Marvin Fraser.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Fraser said that the federation has been dealing, for about a year, with speculations about that matter that would result in FIFA banning Coombs for two years and fining him US$40,000.
He said that up to this year there was a meeting at which persons and affiliates questioned the outcome of the case against Coombs because they were hearing all sorts of things.
Coombs had received information from FIFA a couple months ago that they intended to ban him and he has the right to appeal, which he did, Fraser said.
He said that word of the ban came on Tuesday, when FIFA released a statement on their website.
The statement said the investigation into Coombs was opened on 9 June 2016 and focused on the resale of tickets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
The investigatory chamber analysed allegations that Coombs had sold tickets purchased by the SVGFF and by him personally, in his capacity as a FIFA standing committee member, for a profiteering mark-up.
“The adjudicatory chamber found Mr Coombs guilty of having violated articles 21 (Bribery and corruption), 19 (Conflicts of interest) and 15 (Loyalty) of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Mr Coombs is therefore banned for two years from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level. A fine in the amount of USD 40,000 has also been imposed on Mr Coombs,” the statement said.
It said that Coombs was notified of the decision on Tuesday and that the ban came into force immediately.
Fraser told the press conference that the federation had earlier on Wednesday sent correspondence to FIFA because the SVGFF was yet to receive any official notification from FIFA.
“… but they have already informed the president, Mr. Coombs that he is to vacate office and he has done so,” Fraser said.
He said the executive thanked Coombs for what he has done for the development of football in SVG and his contribution over the last six years that they have worked together.
“We know that in times like these, we have the tendency as human beings and as Vincentians to try to throw salt in the wounds of others to try to make sure we rub it in properly.
“But, I believe that we all go through periods in our lives when we need support, when we need people to look out for us because we all make mistakes and we all do things…
“Mr. Coombs is no longer with us as the president of football but the executive of the football federation continues and we soldier on,” Fraser said.
He said that the executive committee met Tuesday night and made a number of decisions.
Fraser said that while the constitution says that in the absence of the president, for meeting purposes, the first, second or third vice-president, should chair, in that order if the previous is not present, when the president travels overseas, the first vice-president assumes the role.
However, the federation’s constitution is silent on what happens if the president is suspended or banned by FIFA, Fraser told reporters.
“But protocol being followed from other associations, including FIFA, CONCCACAF, CFU when their president is banned or suspended, the next person in line assumes the position until an AGM is called so that new people could be put in place.
“We follow the rules and regulations of FIFA, also, we follow our constitution, and so, the first vice-president, who is Mr. Otashie Spring acted on numerous occasions when the president was out of state as the acting president and last night, at a meeting, when we spoke of our way forward, the first vice-president, Mr. Spring, decided that he will give way as the acting president for myself to take such role.
“So we are here today, Marvin Fraser, by unanimous decision by the executive, full support by the executive, is now the acting president of the football federation and we expect that football will continue in this country.”
Fraser said he knows that not everyone would agree with the decision of the executive, adding that some persons would be thinking “that it is their time and now is their time.
“But the electoral process of the football federation states that until an AGM, that this body, the executive committee, has a right to determine who will fill a vacant position.”
Fraser said there was “a play on words in the constitution and we can debate that.
“But, to let you all know, we went through it and so last night also at our executive committee meeting, one of the first things we decided to do after I was told that I would lead the organisation forward as president, we decided to remove the ‘acting’ from Mr. Devron Poyer.
“So, Mr. Poyer is no longer acting general secretary. Mr. Poyer is now our general secretary,” Fraser said.
The new acting head of the SVGFF said his predecessor is expected to have a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.
iWitness News was unsuccessful in its repeated attempts on Wednesday to reach Coombs via cellphone for comment.