Two clubs put spotlight on Football Federation

Football Federation Samoa’s decision to suspend two local soccer clubs has been brought to the attention of the regional and world football governing body.

The Adidas SC and the Sogi SC wrote to the Oceania Football Confederation Secretary General Frank Castillo on 15 December 2020 expressing concern about their suspension, and argued that the decision violated the rights of their clubs under Article 12 of the F.F.S. Constitution.

The 15 December 2020 correspondence to Mr Castillo was jointly signed by the Adidas SC President Leaula Theresa Asiata and her Sogi SC colleague Imoa Noaese. 

The two clubs also wrote to the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, and asked him to intervene as the Minister responsible.

In a letter dated 26 November 2020 to the then C.E.O. of the F.F.S. Seve Dr Folototo Seve, Leaula expressed disappointment at not receiving a letter to attend the Congress in December last year and demanded to know the grounds which led to the decision by the F.F.S. to suspend her club.

“There has been no correspondence to explain why we have not been delivered a letter for the congress,” her letter stated. “Where is the transparency and accountability as the management to put aside personal issues and serve the federation professionally without any discrimination of its members.

“I demand as the President of Adidas Club an explanation of why we are not issued a letter to attend the congress and I also express my right as a member to attend the congress.

“I apologise if I may sound out of line but it is just relaying our great disappointment in not being included in what should be compulsory for all members.” 

Seve responded to Leaula in a 4 December 2020 letter, which advised that the F.F.S. Executive Committee met on 2 December 2020, and resolved to suspend Adidas SC due to a “serious issue.”

“And the Executive Committee has resolved to suspend your [Adidas Soccer Club] due to a serious issue that was raised by our auditors involving one Adidas Soccer Club’s executive member,” Seve stated in his reply.

It is understood that the failure by the F.F.S. management to specifically outline the reasons behind the suspension of the two clubs, including the “serious issue” relating to the Adidas SC executive, compelled them to write to Mr Castillo.

“The matter is the Football Federation Samoa efforts to suspend our membership within the Federation. I will try to outline the two clubs’ cases separating for ease of reference,” wrote Leaula and Imoa in their joint letter.

“Sogi has not been formally informed of any reason for suspension. [….] The same can be said for the Adidas club who again have only been told of a serious issue with one of its executive members but no further details. 

“We believe the F.F.S. President [Papalii Leslie Petaia], executive and administration are using its powers unjustly to weed out clubs it feels doesn’t follow its policies and initiatives without question.

“It’s clear to all that this vendetta against these two clubs is driven through personal issues [….]. The issues have nothing to do with the clubs and should in no way affect their membership within the federation. 

“Under the Article 3 (e) of the O.F.C. Statutes there is scope for O.F.C. to assist with these types of disputes as we have been unable to receive any assistance through the normal channels. 

“We are also seeking the assistance of the Government through the Ministry of Sports however as the issue is time sensitive; we believe the assistance of O.F.C. and FIFA is our last resort.” 

The correspondence addressed to Mr Castillo was also copied to Ronen Herscho, who is the FIFA Development Manager (Asia and Oceania). 

It is not known if Mr Castillo or Minister Loau have responded to the correspondence that the two besieged soccer clubs wrote to them seeking their intervention.

The 18 December 2020 Congress that the two clubs were banned from attending was later postponed by the F.F.S. management. 

The F.F.S. President Papalii Leslie Petaia was contacted by the Samoa Observer last week to comment on the saga involving the two clubs but to date is yet to respond.

The spotlight on soccer’s national governing body in Samoa comes a week after the Samoa Observer revealed that an employee, who no longer works for the organisation, was alleged to have misappropriated over $200,000 and was not reported to the authorities with the F.F.S. management opting to get the staff to repay the funds.

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