Rugby Chief sets record straight on pay package questions

The Chief Executive Officer of the "cash-strapped" Samoa Rugby Union, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i, has laughed at claims he is being paid an annual salary of $220,000 tala per annum.

“I wish it was true,” he said.

Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, the Chief Executive Officer said he is especially gutted that rumours surrounding his pay package are being spread by certain Board members of the Union. He did not name anyone in particular.

Faleomavaega made the point in response to questions from the Sunday Samoan over claims he is one of the highest paid local CEOs.

A salary of $220,000 would place anyone above the salary that is being paid to Prime Minster Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is the Chairman of the SRU, or anyone of his Cabinet Ministers.

During the interview, Faleomavaega confirmed the salary outlined on his contract, as part of SRU reforms back in 2015, was $180,000 plus benefits.

“But I did not accept it,” he said. “This salary was approved by the Board at the time but I didn’t consider it given that it was unrealistic for a Union like the SRU.

“I didn’t come here for the money and the Union at the time did not have the money for it.”

The CEO was not at liberty to share his contract with the Sunday Samoan.

But he explained that in 2015, the SRU underwent a number of reforms. Part of the reforms looked at the salaries of the staff – including the management.

“And that was the salary that was submitted and approved by the SRU Board, but I did not accept it.”

At the moment, Faleomavaega said he is being paid the equivalent of a Government CEO level salary which is around the $120,000 mark.

“So I don’t know where this rubbish comes from. And the SRU still owes me my transport allowance. I am using my personal car, and I am not pushing for my transport allowance, because this is not a priority.”

Faleomavaega added the reforms at the time took into account the fact support staff of the SRU – including coaches and specialized roles – were paid much more than the CEO.

“They are specialized jobs,” he said. “Those are the kinds of salary level because we can’t fulfill those positions locally, like strengthening and conditioning trainers and those of the High Performance Unit.

“It’s similar to the government, if they contract overseas people, we pay that kind of salary, to attract them to come and stay in Samoa.”

Getting back to Board members spreading misinformation about his pay package, the CEO said he was gutted by this.

“It’s really sad this is coming out now and it is whole lot of rubbish. I didn’t come to the union to make money; I came, out of love for the team and the Union, as a former player. Serving the SRU is paramount.

“It is sad that we see the element of those people who come here. There are a few who are after my job.”

The CEO also revisited how he became involved with the Union.

“I was asked to assist with organising the All Blacks match; there were issues that almost cancelled the historical match.

“So I was here temporarily and then when the CEO position was advertised, I was asked to apply and reluctantly I did. At the same I didn’t want to shy away from the challenges.”

Faleomavaega said his contract is up for renewal in July this year. So far, he is happy with the work that has been done and the progress made.

“When I came on board, the SRU debt was $3.2 million and I’m certain before the end of the year, our debts will be under a million tala.

“We got to where we are by getting our priorities right and in doing that we haven’t failed to meet our obligations with all the tournaments, paying allowances the outfitting ; at the same time addressing the issues we have with the bank on our debts.

“We have been working hard to earn their trust. It is a matter of decision making being done on a must have and must not have. I want to leave SRU in a better position when I got in.”

The CEO also shared all his overseas trips for meetings are fully funded by the World Rugby.

“Unless it is a paid fully funded trip, I don’t take it. Again we can’t afford it, because even that we can’t afford it.”

Regarding the $90,000 salaries for the Human Resources Manager and the Financial Comptroller, Faleomavaega said this was all part of the reforms.

“The HR person deals with all the contracts of the players locally and on the international level and also has been tasked to do much other roles in the office to save money,” he said.

“Our Comptroller plays a valid role and considering our financial status, he is doing a damn good job. Sadly the SRU is being judged by the public based on the scoreboard and the result of games, yet the union has come a long way.”

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