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Fam listed among the least transparent

Global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI) has released a damning report, listing Football Association of Malawi (Fam) as among the world’s least transparent and accountable football associations.

However, Fam president, Walter Nyamilandu, during Saturday’s presidential debate in Lilongwe insisted that his association is clean as its financial books are audited every year by reputable auditors.

TI examined FA websites to find information on financial accounts, governing statutes, codes of conduct and annual activity reports and published the results in a mockingly titled report —Transparency International Football Governance League Table— published on November 19, 2015 on the organisation’s website.

“Only 14 out of Fifa’s 209 football associations— Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden— publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in,” reads the report’s preamble.

TI says this lack of openness is despite the fact that the FAs get over $1 million from Fifa.

Fam was weighed and found wanting with its website conspicuously missing financial accounts, annual activity report, and code of conduct or ethics. The only readily available of the four things TI was looking for was organisational statutes or charter.

A visit to Fam’s website confirmed the report’s findings.

Fam can find solace in the fact that almost every African FA is on the dark part of the research, and in the TI’s observation, Fifa might be partly to blame for not making the publication of this information mandatory.

Fam presidential candidate in Saturday’s elections, Wilkins Mijiga, on Tuesday said that with such type of unaccountability, the association cannot attract enough resources as donors and investors cannot trust the ‘secretive’ Fam leadership with their money.

“…the reason [why Fam cannot publish audited reports] is simple: no audit firm can publish Fam accounts because the accounts would be qualified and expose mismanagement,” wrote Mijiga in a WhatsApp response.

The other presidential contestant, Willy Yabwanya Phiri, also lamented the state of transparency at Fam.

“No. We don’t have any excuses… the incumbent [Fam president] told Malawians that Fam is being audited, but never mentioned why he often changes auditing companies… In all fairness, the current Fam administration has failed our soccer,” wrote Yabwanya, also on WhatsApp.

Fam general secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda, on Tuesday promised to respond to IP’s report by yesterday noon, but he had not as we went to print.

Meanwhile, Fifa’s acting secretary general, Markus Kattner, has highlighted “major deficiencies” in the way most FAs use Fifa’s $350 million Financial Assistance Programme (FAP).

Kattner, using a letter to Fifa members enclosing 2016 FAP application forms, noted that there are no “special bank account maintained for Fifa development-related transfers, signatory powers not well defined (single signature instead of joint signature).”

“Expenses not documented sufficiently by third-party documents such as invoices, delivery vouchers, cash receipts, etc. Expense documents not readily available at the time of audit,” he added.

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