Officials of leading sporting organisation in T&T firmly believe yesterday’s arrest of top FIFA officials on allegation of fraud, racketeering and money laundering by the United States department of Justice has thrown the spotlight on the need for good governance codes and practices in the world of sport.
Brian Lewis, president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) and Robert Farrier, president of the T&T Cycling Federation expressed similar views during separate T&T Guardian interviews.
Citing the presumption of innocence and due process, Lewis said, the allegation would have to be addressed in the appropriate forum and believed it was crucial for FIFA president Sepp Blatter to both take responsibility and show leadership as the world governing body for football could not operate as if it was business as usual.
FIFA, as one of the leading sport bodies, said Lewis, would have to take very decisive and proactive action to address the issue and work to rebuild its credibility and positive reputation, citing at the end of the day, it was more than just the FIFA executive–it was about the sport.
“It highlights the importance of sport in the Caribbean, notwithstanding around the world, adhering and adopting to the universal principles of good governance as it relates to transparency, accountability and ethical conduct and behaviour in the discharge of our duties as sport administrators and sport leaders, with regard to the sports which we are charged with the responsibilities to be stewards of. We represent the bigger picture of sports, most particularly the athletes and the youth. I think that we have to be exceedingly mindful in the context of how we administrate sport,” said Lewis.
“None of us are perfect! None of us are saints or angels. We have our weaknesses, shortcomings and we make mistakes, but in the context of how we administrate sports and lead sports, we must strive to have zero tolerance for corruption, bribery and all the different manifestations. Even though the allegations are still to be proven, it is a dark day for FIFA in the context of the spectacle of senior high ranking officials being arrested by a body and an entity such as the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) and the Swiss authorities. It can’t do well for the positive image and reputation of FIFA.
Farrier, the TTCF head, said, “It sends a message that governance in sport is very important and we need to do things like constitution reform. We need to follow all the procedures that we put in place. Sport is big business and there must be proper governance.”
Serrette, meanwhile, said, when he decided to get involved in the administration of sport, it was always to be done in a transparent manner.
“After taking over the presidency of the NAAA, it was the first time that we were able to deliver audited statements and we always informed our stakeholders about what was happening. It is about the work we are doing that we don’t get paid for, but we are enjoying the fruits of the hard work that we do when the athletes do well,” Serrette said.