COPE directs to re-summon Officials of Football Federation

COPE Chairman Prof. Charitha Herath yesterday suspended the COPE meeting of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka, due to the absence of the President of the Federation.

Accordingly, the President and other officials of the Sri Lanka Football Federation and its former President Manilal Fernando will be summoned on May 06, the COPE Chairman said.

The committee pointed out that although 10 members were elected to the executive committee of the Football Federation, it was revealed that the chairman would appoint another 18 members to the committee.

The COPE instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Youth and Sports to intervene immediately as this is a major problem, even though it is done in accordance with the Constitution of the Federation. Secretary to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Anuradha Wijekoon said that an order will be issued soon to prevent the appointment of 18 members by the Chairman.

The committee pointed out that the election committees to conduct elections of these sports associations are being set up by these associations themselves and therefore these activities are being carried out without any transparency.

It was revealed that Rs. 750,000 will be given to the Chairman of the Election Committee for the forthcoming election of the Football Federation and Rs. 600,000 each would be given to the other two members and this was severely criticized by the committee. It was also revealed that this situation has arisen due to the inability to oppose the decisions of the Chairman as there are 18 members appointed by the Chairman.

The Committee drew the attention to irregularities of the former chairman of the Federation Manilal Fernando in using money provided by various institutions.

Accordingly misappropriation of a sum of Euro 40,400 ( nearly Rs 6 million) which had been donated by the Italian Football Players Association to construct foot play ground in Kalutara, a sum of USD 60,000 ( nearly Rs 6 million) which had been given by the Asian Football Federation for competitions, a sum of Rs.10 million which had been given by private company to construct 20 houses for Tsunami victims and a sum of USD 200,000 which had been donated by the Asian Football Federation were discussed at the meeting.

It was also revealed that the current President of the Federation has submitted an affidavit to the court stating that no such financial irregularities have taken place in the background of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division concluding its investigations and filing cases in the courts. The committee pointed out that it was a serious matter to inform through an affidavit that it had not happened.

The COPE Chairman pointed out that the game football in the country has fallen to a very low level and it is a tragedy that despite such a large allocation of funds, it has fallen to such a low level. Therefore, the current chairman and former chairman Manilal Fernando should be summoned immediately before the COPE committee to investigate the matter, the COPE committee said.

The COPE chairman emphasized that the Ministry should always be vigilant about the role of these associations and that direct supervision should be carried out by the Ministry.

He also instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Youth and Sports to pay more attention to associations such as the Sri Lanka Cricket and the Football Federation.

Ministers Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Sarath Weerasekera, MPs Rauf Hakeem, Nalin Bandara, S.M Marikkar and S. Rasamanikkam, Secretary to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Director General of the Department of Sports Development along with other officials and officials of Football Federation were present at the meeting.

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