FAM denounces FIFA decision on normalisation committee

The Football Association of Maldives (FAM) has denounced the normalisation committee appointed by FIFA to revise the association and organise fresh elections.

“It is improbable this is the final decision of FIFA as the FIFA executive committee has the right to overrule the decision as it was made by a FIFA emergency committee,” local media reported an FAM statement as reading.

FIFA yesterday announced the formation of a five-member normalisation committee after the collapse of the FAM Congress in September and resignations of several of the members of the FAM Executive Committee, making it impossible to reach a decision-making quorum.

The FAM rejected the move today, saying that the decision was made using a number of false assumptions, noting that an accurate account of events was now being provided.

“One [assumption] was that the FAM executive committee failed to hold the annual congress. However, the executive committee’s responsibility is to organise the congress and that the executive committee fulfilled its responsibilities.”

“The executive committee does not have to take responsibility for the events which occurred at the congress and the perpetrators are being investigated by the FAM.”

The FAM’s 6th congress was abandoned in late September after a number of clubs refused to continue with the agenda following the refusal to consider a no-confidence motion against association President Ilham Ahmed – also Jumhooree Party MP for the Alif Dhaal Dhagethi constituency.


FIFA appoint normalisation committee to revise FAM laws and organise elections

FIFA has appointed a normalisation committee to revise Football Association of Maldives (FAM) statutes, removing President Ilham Ahmed.

“The decision to appoint a normalisation committee follows the collapse of the FAM Congress in September and resignations of several of the members of the FAM Executive Committee, which made it impossible to reach the necessary quorum to take valid decisions,” read a statement from football’s world governing body today.

The five-member normalisation committee is tasked with organising elections by 30 September 2015 at the latest.

The FAM’s 6th congress was abandoned in late September after a number of clubs refused to continue with the agenda, following the refusal to consider a no-confidence motion against Ilham – also Jumhooree Party MP for the Alif Dhaal Dhagethi constituency

Ilham had told local media prior to the meeting that suspension from FIFA was likely if the FAM failed to proceed with the congress, while New Radiant Sports Club Chairman Ali Waheed also warned of dire consequences.

Waheed – also Maldivian Democratic Party chairman – urged revisions to FAM statutes during the eventually-abandoned congress, reported maldivesoccer.com.

Article 7, paragraph 2 of the FIFA statutes, under which the decision has been made, reads as follows:

“Executive bodies of Member Associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Executive Committee in consultation with the relevant Confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time.”

Members of the normalisation committee include Mohamed Shaweed as chairman, Abdul Hameed Abdul Ghafoor as deputy chairman, Mohamed Nizam, Ali Umar, and Faseeh Zahir.

The FAM also came under scrutiny during the AFC Challenge Cup, held in the Maldives during May this year.

The Asian Football Confederation suggested that the Maldives could face suspension from further tournaments should the Anti-Corruption Commission follow-through with plans to investigate possible corruption regarding ticket sales.

The ACC had announced it would investigate potential misconduct after irregularities in the sale of tickets prompted angry protests outside FAM headquarters.

“Since the jurisdiction to investigate any misconduct remains exclusively with the AFC and FIFA, if any domestic investigative authority attempts to intervene in the affairs of AFC or in any tournament conducted by AFC in partnership with FAM, the Republic of Maldives, as a member of AFC and FIFA is at risk of being penalised for such intervention, including suspension from international events and tournaments,” read an AFC press release in May.

Minivan News received information at the time that relatives of FAM staff had been selling tickets at inflated prices.

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Cameroonian player owed over US$13,000 by Maldives football club from 2009

A second foreign footballer has come forward regarding his mistreatment by Club Valencia in the Maldives, claiming that he is still owed US$13,610 by the club since 2009.

Cameroonian national Nkemi A Rim Marcelin was signed to the Maldivian football team from 2007 to 2009, but left after he was allegedly unpaid for a total of five months.

Marcelin’s pay dispute mirrors that of another African player, Wright Charles Gaye, who was signed to Club Valencia in 2012.

On Sunday (March 10), Minivan News reported that Charles had been forced to stay in Male’ for six months whilst waiting for Club Valencia to pay him his remaining US$2,600 salary and a promised one-way ticket home to Liberia.

Unlike Charles, Marcelin was able to leave the Maldives despite being owed over US$13,000, after his new club Becamex Binh Duong Football Club in Vietnam paid for his flight out of the country.

“I feel very, very sad for the club [Valencia], I had helped to win cups in the Maldives, but they are still saying they cannot pay me my money,” Marcelin told Minivan News.

“The club’s management said they would send me all of the money in Vietnam, but I have not received anything yet,” he added.

According to Marcelin, he is still owed US$10,210 from January 2009 to May 2009, as well as a one-way ticket home worth US$1,500.

A number of emails obtained by Minivan News detailing contact between Marcelin and Club Valencia officials from 2010, show the Cameroonian striker pleading with team management and Football Association of Maldives to rectify the problem.

In a message addressed to both the former general secretary of Club Valencia Mohamed Ahmed and the club’s former Chairman Ahmed Saleem, Marcelin claims they had promised to send the money to him 10 months ago.

“I’m not good [at] this moment because my father is sick in Cameroon [and] I don’t have [the] money to give for a hospital,” reads the message, dated March 2010.

A single response sent on March 2010 from Club Valencia’s former Chairman, Saleem, reads: “Thank you for your mail. Sorry for being able to answer your call. I will try to settle your outstanding [payment] ASAP.”

Despite later pleas for the club to pay half of his owed salary for his father’s treatment and a complaint to Football Association of Maldives (FAM) – the most recent dated from February 2013 – Marcelin has received no response.

Club Valencia’s current Chairman Ibrahim Raai Rasheed was not responding to calls or text messages from Minivan News at time of press.

Football Association of Maldives

In regard to Marcelin’s complaint, FAM General Secretary Mohamed Hanim stated that the issue should have been addressed by the former FAM administration.

“We are a new administration that came in on January 26 this year. As soon as I receive a complaint on my table, I will address that problem accordingly.

“FAM will always stand for the rights of players and the clubs. If there is a player [who has a complaint] they should follow procedures for it to be addressed,” Hanim told Minivan News.

When asked if there was any concern from FAM regarding rumours that certain clubs were taking away the passports of foreign players, Hanim said: “We will not taken action on speculations and rumours, instead we take action on matters documented by players or the club itself.

In regard to the rights of players, the FAM Secretary said that the topic will be on the agenda for next Executive Committee meeting.

“The next meeting will involve discussing in more detail what actions we can be taken in regard to mistreatment of players.

“The meeting will highlight the rights of both foreign and local players and that they should be dealt with in a manner that could be regarded as inhumane. This goes for every club,” Hanim said.

Had to survive off handouts: Wright Charles Gaye

Former Club Valencia striker Wright Charles Gaye was finally able to return home on Sunday (March 10) after six months of living in poverty in Male’.

Charles, who resigned from Club Valencia in September 2012 due to a lack of salary, was left stranded in Male’ as he waited for two month’s worth of salary from the club and a promised one-way-ticket home.

Speaking to Minivan News the Liberian national said that he had been forced to live in accommodation with no water or electricity and had survived on just MVR 500 (US$32.49) a week.

Club Valencia’s management stated that the reason behind the delay in Charles’ payments, was because there had been a delay in securing financial assistance from both the sports ministry and from the club’s sponsorship.

Media coverage of Charles’ situation resulted in Club Valencia paying him US$2,600, a one-way ticket home and an extra month’s salary.


Liberian player signed to Maldivian football club “trapped” in Male’ after salary dispute

A Liberian striker brought in to play for a Maldivian football club has spoken of his desperation as he remains trapped in the Maldives with no money and no ticket home.

Wright Charles Gaye, a former striker for Maldivian football club Club Valencia, has spent the last six months living in poverty after the club failed to provide him with two month’s owed salary and a promised one-way ticket home.

Speaking to Minivan News on Thursday (March 7), the 27-year-old Liberian national revealed how he had been forced to live in accommodation with no water or electricity, having to survive on handouts from club officials and other players.

“It has been terrible. I am owed US$2,600 and a one-way-ticket home to Liberia, but for six months I have received nothing.

“It’s hard because I have family back in Africa. They are looking to me because I have to send money back. My son is no longer is school because I don’t have the money to send home,” Charles said.

The issue has now attracted the attention of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), after Charles lodged a formal complaint to the international organisation.

A letter from FIFA calls for the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) to provide Club Valencia’s position on the claim lodged by Charles no later than March 25.

FAM was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Charles, who has played for multiple clubs in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Liberia, claimed that Valencia’s Chairman Ibrahim Raai Rasheed had told him not to put anything in the news regarding his situation.

“He [Rasheed] is going around telling people that everything is okay for me. But if you want to believe that you can come and see my apartment.

“A former official from the club is giving me MVR 500 (US$32) a week because he feels sorry for me. It’s hard to survive on, but I feel ashamed to be calling for help,” he added.

The Liberian striker said that he had been recently moved into a guest house by his former club after he complained about the lack of electricity and water at his apartment.

Charles claimed that Rasheed had made multiple “promises” to the striker, assuring him that he would be given his wages and a flight home, but each time the chairman did not deliver.

“Sometimes the chairman would call me and say ‘Charles pack your things, you are leaving tomorrow, get your money together and get ready’, so when I pack and call him back, he doesn’t pick up. This has happened two or three times,” Charles said.

“In December I was told I would be leaving on December 23 and would arrive on December 25 on Christmas morning. It meant I would see my son and would get to spend Christmas with him. But over the next few days he was not taking my calls. When he did eventually pick up, he would just say ‘I’m busy, I’ll call you back,” he added.

Club Valencia responds

Responding to the footballer’s claims, Club Valencia Management – when contacted by Minivan News – said that Charles will be paid his full wages and will be given a ticket home to Liberia in Africa.

“There has been a lot of miscommunication recently. Charles has communicated with me on only a few things, but I feel bad for him,” a club official claimed. “His salary and ticket home is now all sorted had he will be returning home.”

The club’s management denied that Charles’ apartment was without running water and electricity, adding that they had written proof of utility bills for the months he had stayed there.

The reason behind the delay in Charles’ payments – according to Club Valencia Management – was that there had been delays in financial assistance from the sports ministry and from the club’s sponsorship.

Despite Valencia’s claims of financial hardship, the Liberian striker claimed that the club had recently brought in three foreign new players and a new coach for the team.

“[Valencia] must have the money. If they don’t, how can they bring in these new players, put them in a big hotel and let them eat in good restaurants? How can they do all that and not pay me?” Charles said.

Club Valencia Management confirmed that three new players and a coach had been taken on by the club.

Life as a foreign footballer in the Maldives

Wright Charles Gaye came to the Maldives four years ago after being signed by New Radiant SC, where he experienced similar pay disputes with the club before transferring to VB Addu FC – known as VB Sport Club until January 2012.

Following a complaint to the Football Association of Maldives over a lack of pay for six months, Charles was eventually paid by New Radiant SC in November 2012.

The striker joined Valencia in the June 2012 transfer period, and started playing in July until the clubs last game on September 28.

Having allegedly only received one month’s pay for July, Charles then left the club and has been waiting for a promised ‘one-way-ticket’ home and his remaining two month salary.

“When you first come to the Maldives as a player, they talk to you nicely and treat you well, but as soon as you sign the papers, it all finishes.

“Some Maldivian players have the same issue, I know two or three players from different clubs who have had payment problems, but for the foreign players it is worse,” Charles said.

The Liberian national also revealed how certain clubs retain foreign player’s passports over concern that the players will buy their own tickets and fly home.

“I have a friend who played here from Cameroon and the club hid his passport, and would not return it when he asked for it back.

“Whenever you ask for your passport they would give you a story, maybe say that is being kept in immigration. They have asked for mine before, but I know what would happen if I gave it them,” Charles alleged.

Addendum: Wright Charles Gaye subsequently contacted Minivan News to say Valencia had paid the US$2,600, an additional one month’s salary and had booked him a one-way flight to Liberia.

Photograph: Maldivesoccer.com


Maldives targets global TV audience as it finalises beach games plans

Organisers of the first Maldives Beach Games tournament scheduled for later this year claim they are confident of leaving a long lasting sporting legacy in the country for local people and tourists, despite the challenges of self-funding and a lack of event hosting experience.

Hassan Ismail, Chairman of Marketing and PR for the Maldives Beach Games 2011, told Minivan News that the event – running from September 18 to September 25 – was expected to bring unprecedented opportunities, as well as a number of challenges, to the Maldives’ shores.

According to event organizers, the games will aim to bring hundreds of athletes from around the world to the country in order to compete in 10 sporting disciplines involving the sun, as well as potentially receiving coverage from a number of sports broadcasters.

In looking to host the event, Ismail claimed that some 500 to 700 local people were expected to be trained to look after guests and participants while overseeing the games, which is being designed to run as a commercially profitable and ongoing annual event.

“As well as providing entertainment for visitors, we are also trying to ensure sports development for local people to use and train on,” he said. “At present, we don’t have people trained to deal with such as event, so the organising committee is learning during the process. This is a big challenge, though we are bringing in foreign experts to help provide expertise and training.”


In light of recent protests and criticism of governmental financial policy in the Maldives, Ismail claimed that the event would ideally be funded 100 percent through sponsorship, although he conceded that state funding may be needed to “fill gaps” that would eventually then be paid back by organisers.

The event’s marketing head added that the games would be a relatively unique opportunity for participants to come to the Maldives from all over the world without having to pay to enter, serving as an event that was completely self-financed.

“We have not yet disclosed the cost for hosting the event, but will be doing so soon. We are consulting with international sponsors and we even hope we may be able to make a small profit for the event,” he said. “We believe there are plenty of commercial opportunities from this, particularly with broadcasters such as Eurosport and ESPN who have agreed to screen the games.”

Pointing to the Maldives’ present lack of experience with hosting international events, Ismail said that all the country’s broadcasters had agreed to produce programming for national and international coverage of the games, though investments in camera and television equipment would be needed.

“We are looking at sponsorship for local channels to buy equipment that they can produce related programming with,” he said. “We are looking for quotations for equipment, though there is also an important South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference taking place in Addu Atoll this year, so perhaps we can find a joint solution [for broadcasting these events].”

A wealth of sports including triathlon, kabaddi, beach cricket, football and ‘volleyball’ along with body building, swimming, rowing, surfing and wind surfing will be contested during the games at different locations around the country that are yet to be identified.

While this year’s inaugural event is not expected to be officially recognised with official status by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Ismail said that discussions were ongoing with the global sporting body about receiving an official stamp within the next few years.

“A number of official bodies are assisting in the games with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) involved in beach soccer and the regional body building association helping with that event,” he said. “By year three, we ideally need the IOC to officially stamp us as an event. But all the sports at the games will be assisted by official bodies, which are important developments to help us gain an official status.”

Ismail claimed that beyond dealing with these potential hosting challenges, the games had two main objectives in the Maldives.

Beyond attempting to host a major international multi-sports event for the first time in the Maldives, he said that it would also be vital to help develop pitches and grounds where both local people and international visitors could train and enjoy sports.

“The Maldives is more than just a beach and cocktail venue, we hope to create a strong sport tourism scene here as well,” he said. “Our hope is that eventually every resort will be hosting mini-events for visitors to take part in.”


Maldivian referees receive FIFA badges

Several Maldivians who are eligible to become match officials for international football matched have received their FIFA referee badges.

Maldivians who are now FIFA officials are referee Ali Saleem and assistant referees Ahmed Ameez, Ibrahim Thaufeeq, Mohamed Anila, Mohamed Fareed and Mohamed Aslam.

At the ceremony two teenagers who completed the AFC future referee course were also awarded. They are Ismail Izhaan and Ahmed Afsah.


VB sports fined by FIFA

VB Sports Club has been fined by FIFA over the contract terminations of two foreign players in 2007.

The two players, Sergio and Bovaria, both from Argentina, were among the first foreign players bought by the club after its re-branding from Island Football Club, to VB Sports.

According to Haveeru the club CEO has confirmed that club had been fined by FIFA, but did not know the exact amount.

However, Haveeru reported that the amount was believed to be USD 50,000.

The reason for the contract termination was due to the players not being up to standard. The only game they played was the tsunami charity match, and both had given a very poor performance.

Their contracts were terminated before the season had started.

Haveeru reports that the club is barred from participating in the AFC cup, until they paid the fine.

Over the last few weeks VB have been signing many big names in preparation for the AFC cup.