KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES; WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21, 2018 – Months following FIFA’s ban of former president Venold Coombs, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation will be facing a number of legal battles.
First up is the failure to pay cost awarded by the courts to a former executive officer. Second is a breach of contract, and third is wrongful dismissal and unjust termination of contract, respectively.
In October 2018, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation was found to have committed a criminal offense by the Labour Commissioner of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
According to a letter dated October 23rd 2018 sent to the former media officer of the SVGFF, the Labour Commissioner wrote: “Section 8 of the Protection of Employment Act 2003 states that employers shall provide an employee with terms and conditions of service in writing, within seven (7) days from the date of employment.”
The Labour Commissioner ruled that: “The failure of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation to provide you with a contract contravenes the provision of this section, and is a criminal offence.”
The former media officer, having not received a response to his letter to the General Secretary requesting clarity on the reasons given, then filed a complaint with the Labour Commissioner in June 2018.
However according to sources familiar with the matter, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation may face additional criminal charges, depending as to the outcome of investigations by the Director of Public Prosecution Office.
These additional charges would be in violation of Sections 9 and 10 of the Protection of Employment Act, for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, though having the right to dismiss any employee, failed to carry out the termination of the former media officer as stated in the laws of the land.
Also the manner in which the media officer was terminated flies int he face of natural justice, and is clearly a failure to observe the principles of due process.”
A 20 June 2018 dated letter co-signed by Oliver Jaberg FIFA’s Director Integrity and Institutional Legal, and Stephanie Männl the Head of Institutional Legal, which was addressed to the former media officer and copied to both CONCACAF and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, states: “Regarding the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents, we take note that these appear to involve employment/labour law related questions. As a general point, FIFA expects and assumes that each of its Member Associations is in compliance with its respective mandatory national laws, including applicable mandatory employment legislation.”
Prior to this, in a May 5, 2014 dated letter, former FIFA General-Secretary Jerome Valcke had written to Venold Coombs, then President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, pointing out to him among other issues, “the absence of employment contracts for members of the coaching and administrative staff of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation.”
In this same letter Valcke reiterated FIFA’s requirements that all employees of all Member Associations must be issued with employment contracts, without fail.
Upon receipt of that letter, fifteen contracts were prepared within a two-week period in order for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation to escape any sanctions by FIFA.
One argument being used by executive officers of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation is that there was never a signed contract between the former media officer and the SVGFF. A knowledgeable trade union official refuted that argument saying that labour law dictates others wise.
In fact according to the Protection of Employment Act – number 20 0f 2003 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines states: “employer means any person or authority for whom an employee works or has worked under a contract of service, whether such contract is oral or in writing, expressed or implied, for manual labour or otherwise.”
The sources familiar with the matter added that there is sufficient evidence to refute any arguments put forward by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They also asked why was this matter not settle through mediation, for the SVGFF to be guilty of a criminal offence is another black mark football can do without.”