Embattered Manilal Hits Out At “Baseless Allegations”
Flatly denying allegations on misappropriation of Tsunami funds, Former head of the GOAL development office and former Chairman of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka Manilal Fernando said all the Tsunami development funds donated by FIFA were handled with transparency, accountability and integrity.
Addressing a packed press conference in Colombo on Wednesday (05) Fernando said, in the aftermath of Tsunami disaster Sri Lanka received 3.2 million USD from FIFA as a result of his submissions before the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA. The money was utilized to construct and renovate ten football centres in Ampara, Galle, Mannar, Colombo, Wattala, Badulla, Kalutara, Norwood and Beddagana. At the press conference, all the documents with regard to every construction were handed over to journalists for their perusal.
“Financial records on every construction were properly maintained and not a single penny was spent without appropriate records,” Manilal Fernando asserted.
“I did not perform magic shows with Tsunami funds. Everything was open and transparent. I am willing to provide any detail to anyone who wants to investigate into the matter. The irony is those who are occupying the buildings I made and using the chairs I brought in, are leveling baseless allegations at me,” he said remarked alluding to the present administration of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka.
“All financial transactions with regard to the constructions took place directly between FIFA and the respective contractors. In other words, FIFA paid contractors and other relevant parties directly and money never went through the GOAL Office’s accounts. The GOAL development office, as clearly stipulated in our mandate, played the role of an observer and a Coordinator. Therefore, there was no room for any financial misappropriation on the part of the GOAL office,” Fernando stated.
All constructions, he said, were completed on time and retention money was also paid. Pictures of the new constructions were also publicized Two projects- Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu – were abandoned due to conflict situations that prevailed in the area. In some of the projects, extra work had to be done but the process was fully transparent. The transference of extra work was done in concurrence with the Football Federation of Sri Lanka.
“The records of the minutes of the Executive Committee meetings of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka on 01.09.2007 are testimony to the transparency of the process. Members of the present football administration were also part of the same committee, which unanimously endorsed the details I provided at Ex-Co/council meetings. And they were fully aware of the transparency of the transactions,” said Fernando.
Fernando went on to illustrate with pictures that some members of the present administration also took part in the openings of Tsunami construction projects. “Every member of the FFSL was fully aware of constructions and they knew what was going on. Those who accuse me of misappropriations today were even members of tender boards!” the former football administrator pointed out.
He also stated that one member of the present administration, by innuendo, had indicated that there had been financial misappropriations when utilizing Tsunami Funds.
“It is evident that this smear campaign is aimed at tarnishing my image as I was the head of the GOAL development office in Sri Lanka. I have been in the football administration in Sri Lanka since 1976 and have done my best for the betterment of Sri Lankan football. These baseless allegations can only be construed as a sinister plan against one individual- Manilal Fernando,” he said stating that he would welcome any fair inquiry into the utilization of Tsunami funds.