• Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

FIFA punishes secretary: Is BFF president admitting responsibility enough?


Apr 17, 2023

Amidst the failure to send SAAF champion women’s football team to the Olympic qualifiers, Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) is involved in yet another scandal.

FIFA, the regulatory body of world football, has banned BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag from all sorts of football-related activities for two years, accusing him of financial fraud.

While the allegations were raised against the general secretary, this incident has raised questions about the actions of BFF as a whole.

BFF officials including the federation president Kazi Salahuddin, cannot shrug off the blame of damaging Bangladesh’s image before the world.

Prothom Alo’s reported that the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee has passed the ruling against the BFF general secretary at the end of long investigation and hearing procedures.

A 51-page document describing the whole incident has been published on FIFA’s website. It showed that FIFA had brought allegations under four different sections.

Those are section-15 (general duties), section-13 (duty of loyalty), section-24 (forgery and falsification) and section-28 (misappropriation and misuse of funds).

The adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee has said that the allegations brought under the first three sections have been proved.

Abu Nayeem Shohag has been punished over allegations of irregularities that occurred between January 2017 and September 2020. The investigation against him started in October 2020.

After receiving the report in October last year, a hearing was held at the FIFA headquarters in February this year. Shohag along with four lawyers representing him attended the hearing.

FIFA has found in their investigation that money of the forward fund, provided for the development of football in Bangladesh, has been misused.

While there was an obligation to use the money of this fund in a specific sector, it wasn’t followed. The obligation to keep the money in a specified account and doing transactions from there has also been breached.

The investigation team of FIFA’s Ethics Committee after analysing several transactions has found financial discrepancies of Tk 63.5 million (Tk6.35 crore), which is 17.73 per cent of the total verified transactions.

Apart from this, they have found four discrepancies in case of purchase. There are allegations like inviting tenders from the same source and making payments without invoices.

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After being banned from all football related activities, Abu Naeem Shohag’s lawyer claimed in a statement that FIFA’s ruling was “flawed”, “speculation-based”, “motivated” and “biased”. The statement also claimed, “This verdict has been given, targeting Bangladesh football.”

This statement is not just ridiculous, but a typical attempt to lighten serious allegations by bringing forward conspiracy theories. The question is, what’s FIFA’s gain in targeting BFF?

Abu Nayeem Shohag still has the chance to appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But there’s no way to overlook the worrying picture of irregularities and mismanagement at Bangladesh Football Federation that came up through this incident.

The government, especially the ministry of youth and sports, has to pay due attention to this incident and investigate the allegations through an independent probe committee.

While Abu Nayeem Shohag was removed from the post of BFF general secretary following FIFA’s decision, the executive council is yet to take a decision by meeting formally.

BFF president Kazi Salahuddin said, “I must take the responsibility of this incident.” He obviously has to take responsibility because it’s his job as the president to monitor how BFF is being managed and what irregularities are occurring.

But the question is, can Kazi Salahuddin avoid this administrative failure just by taking responsibility as the president. Is there any justification for him to continue to hold onto this post?

There are allegations of corruption, irregularities, nepotism, misuse of power and running organisation in an undemocratic manner, against other sports federations of the country as well. There is no alternative but to reorganise everything from the scratch.


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