Fiji may miss sevens after the IRB halts funding

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 05:00 13/01/2014

Relevant offers

Sevens

Netballer Grant getting used to sevens contact Bunce tipped to make big impression in sevens Blyde and Broughton in women's national sevens Keshia Grant set to make her NZ Sevens debut Several new faces in New Zealand Sevens side Samoa sevens lack star names for Gold Coast Kenya sevens side decimated in wage dispute George Smith's Tonga Olympic dream dashed IRB tightens up guidelines for Olympics sevens Tietjens rebuilding with loss of Super players

Fiji's colourful team is an uncertain starter for next month's Wellington Sevens after the International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed it had suspended its annual grant of £1.1 million (NZ$2.2 million) to the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU).

The union is effectively controlled by military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama and the IRB said "that it is to suspend all direct financial support to the FRU with immediate effect until the union adopts key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms".

In a statement the FRU blames its woes on earlier administrations of the game in Fiji and says it is cleaning it up.

"Please note that all these issues were inherited by this current FRU board and the board expects to clear up all these issues by end of May 2014."

The union said to "alleviate the financial crisis" they are fundraising and hope next week to name a new sponsor.

Fiji media say this will be cellphone company Digicel but only as a portion of the IRB grant.

The FRU statement makes no reference to the plight of the country's seven side which is due to play at the Wellington Sevens on February 7-8.

Team coach, former England coach Ben Ryan, has not been paid for three months and revealed last week that he had to pay his own way to attend tournaments involving Fiji.

On Friday the FRU said they had approved Ryan's $300,000 salary, saying it had got funding for it from the government's Fiji Sports Commission. The commission's chief executive is Litiana Loabuka, Bainimarama's daughter.

Bainimarama, who seized power in a coup in 2006, has no formal position on the FRU but the crisis with the IRB has been bought on by his repeated interference with it.

He has vetoed board appointments and in one case has put one of his family members into one of the key sports funding bodies to control who gets the money.

Bainimarama has promised democracy-restoring elections later this year and has said he will be a candidate.

The drama could have severe implications on his ambitions as rugby sevens is virtually the only sport Fiji has on the world stage.

It has devoted considerable resources to the annual world rugby sevens competition - winning this year's opening tournament - and sees sevens as its only hope of getting an Olympic medal.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

What effect will a potential ban on booze at Rugby Sevens 2015 have on you?

I'd no longer go ... what's the point?

I'd buy a ticket, with rugby the priority again.

Ban or no ban, I'm still going.

I'd rather watch 'Wheel of Fortune' on a 24/7 loop than 7s.

Vote Result

Related story: Booze ban hovers over sevens

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content