Football in Goa was in bedlam. The origin can be traced to the elections of the Goa Football Association (GFA) Executive Committee. Along the way, people staying in glass houses appeared to be hurling the biggest stones.
GFA took centre stage, for the wrong reasons, when the issue of the Bandodkar Gold Trophy was debated in the Legislative Assembly. Churchill Alemao raised the issue and other MLA’s joined the debate and Sports Minister Babu Azgaonkar promised the House that a note to order an inquiry into whether the original Bandodkar Trophy was replaced would be placed before the Chief Minister.
GFA reacted immediately and the reaction raised more doubts instead of dousing off doubts in the minds of people who have grown with the Trophy.
GFA president Elvis Gomes called for a press conference, the day after the matter was raised in the Assembly and he finished the press conference with more questions and less answers.
Let us dwell on some of them:
Elvis could not answer why an emergency executive committee meeting had to be called when fingers were not raised against the present committee. Instead, Elvis claimed that after the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held last Sunday and where Churchill had raised the issue, Churchill had called him to inform him that he had no doubts on the present committee. The present committee was not mentioned in the Assembly too.
Elvis said the Bandodkar Trophy was in a bank vault but could not give any evidence to substantiate his claim. Elvis claimed he was not willing to state where the Trophy was keeping in mind the safety of the trophy.
Elvis said the Trophy was sent for evaluation because the committee under Joaquim Alemao tried to get it evaluated and failed and that the evaluation was needed to insure the Trophy. The GFA does not have the evaluation certificate from a gold smith but a guideline on the metal contents of the trophy. Whether the Trophy has been insured or not is still any ones guess.
Elvis claimed the Bandodkar Trophy was got out of the vault because gold has to glitter and GFA was not doing justice by keeping it in the safe. It is now out of the safe and another glitter appears to be adorning GFA.
Elvis during the press conference tried to dwell on what the government had not done for GFA and the extent the government was bending to assuage Churchill Brothers Football Club.
Guilty conscience pricks the mind, is an old saying. Doubts about the Bandodkar Trophy did not begin because of the report of the so called gold smith but because never in the history of the Trophy was it treated so casually. Before, the Bandodkar Gold Trophy received a treatment a valuable item tends to receive. Where it is kept; where it was kept has been the topic of discussion since it has been removed from its locker.
Does transparency mean hiding the details of where the trophy is? And, do all the members of the Executive Committee agree to this pattern of play? The trophy was donated in 1970 and it was always looked after with respect until Elvis and his men decided to have a feel of the Trophy and many appear not to have enough of it as yet.
The Bandodkar Gold Trophy, according to Elvis, was brought out for it to glitter. The tournament was downgraded by making it a U-20 tournament and a day after the finals; Elvis announced that foreign teams would be invited for the next edition as they had shown interest. Perhaps he forgot that it would have been better had the best U-20 teams from India been first invited. Then, the story of foreign teams showing interest would hold validity.
A committee was formed to take the trophy to a goldsmith and I clearly remember executive committee member Sanjiv Nagvekar telling me that the trophy had been taken for evaluation to a goldsmith in Mapusa. After the controversy became public, the trophy seems to have been taken to a goldsmith in Panjim. “I do not know which goldsmith in Panjim. I went when the trophy was taken to Mapusa,” admits Sanjiv. Let us presume the report –not in The Navhind Times- was wrong.
A hue and cry is now being raised by Elvis and now the Benaulim AAP about how Churchill Brothers FC were given a grant of Rs three crore by the government.
The Government of Goa introduced a scheme on February 15, 2018 where football clubs could be entitled to up to a maximum of Rs 3 crore if they met the requirements enlisted. Churchill Brothers FC, who was then part of the I-League, applied and availed benefits of the same. It is still not officially clear how much of the money Churchill availed. However, what is being made out is that the scheme was designed for Churchill.
Elvis during the press conference stated that club members would be taken to the Sports Minister and Chief Minister to demand justice to them because football was declared a State sport by Parrikar. He wondered how Churchill could be given money for football and other clubs ignored.
Fine. But a simple question that emerges is: Did any club fulfill at least parts of the yardsticks enlisted to avail the grants. If so, did they apply and were they denied grants or was there any sort of favouritism to Churchill.
The government football scheme of February 2018 was for football. It was availed by Churchill and according to reports with Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) only Churchill FC applied for the grants.
Who is to be blamed? Churchill for applying for the grants; the government sanctioning the grant to the team that applied or teams that did not apply because they knew they did not fit in the parameters.
The best GFA could do is meet the concerned authorities and present a scheme through which clubs could avail grants.
Elvis Gomes has been talking about transparency, since the time Churchill declared his intention to stand for elections for the post of president of GFA.
Transparency means being open; being clean; having nothing to hide. Transparency means allowing the persons who want to stand for elections to stand and not try obscure transparency through delays and excuses.
The good will always win. If not today, tomorrow. Deciding who is good or bad is not being transparent.
Football is in a bedlam because few individuals are desperate to wrestle to control of GFA . They are the ones in the background. In the open field are Churchill, Avertano and Elvis.
Churchill and Avertano have declared their intent a few months back. Elvis is still testing the waters because another defeat at the hustings will be an error he can ill afford.
Hence, the delay in holding elections to see who can be eliminated before the ballot.
The National Sports Code is clear that a person who completes 70 years cannot stand for election. However, it does not say that a person who will be seventy in a few months cannot stand for election.
It was reported by a section of the media – not The Navhind Times- that the AGM had given the present committee an extension of three months. The AGM never gave the present committee any extension.
Instead, Elvis promised at the AGM that the elections would be declared in seven days.
One lie leads to a hundred lies, was a lesson taught long ago. Elvis is not talking about lies but transparency and ,as he does, the truth is turning opaque and his motives are getting clearer.
Football in Goa is in need of a robust Football Association. Village mentality needs to be kept at bay.