SKNFA RESPONDS TO UK GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER ARTICLE. DECLARES THAT PROPER DUE DILLIGENCE PURSUED IN SELECTION OF TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
ST KITTS, February 3, 2022 – The St Kitts and Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) has responded to international reports that FIFA is requesting “more details about the appointment of a coach accused of sexually abusing and harassing female players in Barbados after it was suggested that he was given “positive recommendations” to take over as director of football in St Kitts and Nevis by the president of the Barbados Football Association.
“The SKNFA wishes its stakeholders and the general public to know that FIFA has not contacted the SKNFA to investigate any of the allegations contained in the said [Guardian] article,” the SKNFA said in a statement dated 3rd February 2022.
The SKNFA said prior to hiring Mr Ahmed Mohamed as the SKNFA’s Director of Football the SKNFA conducted a serious and fulsome due diligence exercise involving consultations with members of the Barbados Football Association, CONCACAF and other persons who knew Mr Mohamed personally. The SKNFA was, and remains, fully satisfied that Mr Mohamed is of good character – the allegations made against him being false – and he has the requisite technical ability to perform his functions to take SKNFA football to higher levels,” said the statement.
It said the SKNFA acknowledges the “seriousness of the allegations referenced in the article, but we are of the firm belief that the article was maliciously contrived by a certain faction of persons who wish to tarnish the good name of of the SKNFA and our recently appointed Director of Football.”
The SKNFA said it will continue to “create an environment, where our players, male and female, can achieve their maximum potential in a safe, fun and professional environment.”
The United Kingdom Guardian newspaper and several international reports Ahmed Mohamed, a former Somalia defender who has managed Barbados and the British Virgin Islands, was appointed by Atiba Harris – the president of the SKNFA – in September.
According to Harris, Mohamed stepped down as technical director of the BFA last year for “family reasons” and was chosen after Harris “reached out personally” to the BFA president, Randy Harris, who is the president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and a vice-president of Concacaf.
Mohamed left his post in Barbados in February 2021 after 27 players from the senior women’s team signed a letter at the start of that month urging the BFA to investigate claims made by one of their teammates.
It understood that she alleged the coach raped her at a hotel when she was 18 and that she previously received a series of unwelcome text messages from him. The player also claimed that she was threatened by senior members of the BFA after attempting to report her clams to the police. Another player alleged that Mohamed sexually abused her over a period of three years, starting when she was 13.
Last February some players also started an online petition demanding a “thorough investigation be carried out immediately”, after no immediate action was taken. “We didn’t put his name because we were afraid,” said one player who did not want to be named. “In our country, it’s hard for someone to claim that kind of thing, especially in sports.”
Mohamed left his post three weeks later, although his identity was not made public by the BFA after Randy Harris said he had been “legally advised not to”. Harris, re-elected unopposed as president of the CFU last year, refused to say whether Mohamed had resigned or been sacked.
“We have policies in place to make clear that we will not accept any form of misconduct or inappropriate behavior,” he said in a statement. “We will always act in the best interests of our organization and of football in Barbados.”
Randy Harris, asked whether he would like to comment about the claim he recommended Mohamed, replied: “No sir.” Neither Atiba Harris nor Mohamed responded to questions from the Guardian.
Dave Browne – the father of the St Kitts captain Phoenetia, who plays for the German second division club SC Sand – said during a phone-in show on Freedom FM last week that he was “deeply concerned” about the situation. “He has been accused of sexually abusing girls – we can’t take that lightly,” Browne said. “As a father of one of the players, I’m very concerned from all angles that the girls could be in danger. Atiba Harris needs to come and tell us why he has appointed him. He owes it to the nation.”
Harris appeared as a guest on Freedom FM on Monday to defend the appointment. “We did our due diligence regarding Mr Mohamed,” he said. “I reached out personally to the president of CFU [Randy Harris], who is also the vice-president of Concacaf, and also other officials within Concacaf and Fifa. We had positive feedback, positive recommendations and we decided to move forward. Those allegations that were made by the gentleman that called in – would the immigration in St Kitts and Nevis let somebody into the country, award them a work permit in such a high position, knowing that something like that was on their back? You tell me.”
Harris added: “[Mohamed] actually resigned for family reasons. Ahmed is a great guy, a great technical person who is going to do wonders for our country within football. I have every confidence in him.”
A spokesperson from Concacaf said: “At no point has anyone from the St Kitts and Nevis FA contacted the Concacaf administration to seek information regarding this individual, or any other prospective employee.”
A Fifa spokesperson said: “Given the seriousness of the allegations, Fifa will contact the relevant member associations to request more details about this matter. When it comes to misconduct and abuse in football, we wish to reiterate that Fifa takes any allegations reported to it very seriously.”
Image – Ahmed Mohamed
Leave a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.