Sport

Stephenson unseats Speid as KSAFA president

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 03, 2014    

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AMBASSADOR Stewart Stephenson was returned as president of the powerful Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) confederation after defeating incumbent Rudolph Speid 42-36 in a contentious election at the Jamaica Football Federation office yesterday.

Stephenson, a lawyer by profession and Jamaica's ambassador to Cuba from 2002-2004, was happy for the victory, but disappointed with what transpired afterwards.

There were allegations of bribery attempts and sabotage of delegates and at the end of the election, equipment from the KSAFA office on Old Hope Road was removed, which clearly irked the newly elected president and his team.

"We are very disappointed that people just come in, members of the past administration, take out computers, printers, laminators and just gone with it. The books are just thrown apart, no proper handing over. I would have expected that between the secretariat of the outgoing and us there would have been dialogue," said Stephenson at newly painted KSAFA office.

When the Jamaica Observer visited the building, there were indications that equipment was indeed removed, leaving empty spaces surrounded by dust on a few desks.

However, sources claimed that the equipment removed might have been personal items belonging to individuals working for KSAFA.

"Our secretariat will take an inventory of what is here and will call our council meeting early next week and I must remind them that the outgoing administration has to prepare the minutes of the meeting just ended," added Stephenson.

Efforts to contact defeated president Speid and members of his team, Ricky Chin and Peter Higgins, proved futile, as telephone calls either went to their voicemails or replies that "incoming calls are restricted".

Outgoing treasurer Brian Rose did answer, but was unaware of any removal of equipment at the KSAFA office, thus refusing to comment.

Stephenson had previously led the confederation between 1996 and 2008, before Speid assumed office. He pointed to possible attempts at bribery and sabotage prior to and during the election.

"Today we had some, not unexpected, but there were attempts made to disenfranchise some of the delegates and I, personally, and Carvel Stewart had to advocate and speak to the constitutionality of Danny Lyn of Constant Spring, the right for them to be delegates and have their two votes, and in the end we got them in," Stephenson noted.

He continued: "There were issues in relation to August Town. There were some movements in relation to delegates of Arnett Gardens and certain in relation to Red Hills. Apparently KSAFA decided whose nomination sheet they wanted to take even if the legitimate president was available. But once we settled the delegates' list we were able to move very quickly on all the issues."

The controversial KSAFA office, acquired by the Speid administration a few years ago on Old Hope Road, once came in for criticism and Stephenson has made it clear that the location is far from suitable.

"I have come to look at it and it confirms that it is not fit for the purpose. KSAFA office should really be on lands where we can play our games, put up stands, and build something. But the land is a repository of value that has to be respected, so we need to enhance whatever value the land has," said Stephenson.

The long-time Real Mona FC member, who secured 42 of the possible 78 votes, said that he expected a close battle, but that he was always confident despite Speid suggesting that he would whip him thoroughly.

"We had predicted from the beginning that it would be close because Mr Speid had developed loyalties over time. It's six years he was the president and before that he was the treasurer and a lot of the support for him came out of loyalty rather than the policies or lack of policies that he had in place," Stephenson claimed.

"The other delegates were very responsive to our new direction, the fact in principle KSAFA must be like a trade union, a service organisation, working with our clubs rather than as a regulatory and policing them," he added.

"This is our fifth term in office and this time around we have brought a lot of young talent around in terms of the leadership and the committees that we have set up. The people are already in place," said a buoyant Stephenson.

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