Be ready for changes, says new CIFA president

Alfredo Whittaker took over as CIFA President on 18 November, 2017.

The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) has a new president in Alfredo Whittaker. He won the internal election at CIFA’s 51st Annual Congress on 18 November and replaces former national player Lee Ramoon, who held the office since May 2016.

It was initially a three-way race for the top job with Whittaker, Ramoon and Renard Moxam. However, after three rounds of voting by delegates from CIFA members, there was no clear winner. Moxam, Cayman’s first ever professional footballer,  then decided to drop out of the race and pledge support to Whittaker.

In the fourth round of voting, Whittaker defeated the incumbent by the narrowest of margins: eight votes to seven. Ironically, Ramoon edged Whittaker by a narrow margin in 2016.

Whittaker, 51, has served as head of referring for CONCACAF and sits on FIFA’s referee committee for development. He said he plans to take a look at what his successor has in place and proceed with the good parts.

Lee Ramoon served as President since May 2016.

However, he indicated that a change of direction is imperative. “I will implement our ideas and plans to change football in the Cayman Islands,” he said in an interview with

Whittaker said immediate plans will focus on youth development, revamping domestic competitions and working with coaches and other volunteers. That three-pronged approach, he said is “key to the success of our footballing fraternity”.

He added: “We need to create a database of our youth footballers. We need to know what we have. We need to start working on our national teams: U15, U17, U20. We need start also looking into our way of playing football – our competitions – what is good for us, what is not good for us.”

The new president’s message to clubs was “be ready for changes, to be ready to work”, as he said they would be invited to the CIFA office in Prospect to present their suggestions for improving the sport at the local level.

In addition to a consultative committee to work along with the executive, Whittaker said bringing coaches together under one umbrella is also important.

“We need to have a committee where the coaches…could sit down and they could agree [or] disagree in how we are going to play the league; where the coaches could sit down and agree when it comes to protecting players,” he said, adding that he would like more support for those who are struggling in the area of development.

Whittaker also pledged to work on rebuilding CIFA’s public image. The association continues to reel from the involvement of former officials, including Jeffrey Webb, caught up in a United States-led crackdown on global corruption in the sport. Former general secretary Costas Takkas has been sentenced after pleading guilty to money laundering conspiracy in relation to bribes he secured on Webb’s behalf when the latter was CONCACAF President.

Webb continues to await sentencing after pleading guilty to various charges and remains under house arrest in the United States. He is also wanted by Cayman Islands authorities in connection with a corruption probe into a hospital payment system that has seen CIFA’s former treasurer, Canover Watson jailed locally.

Watson and first vice president, Bruce Blake, were also arrested earlier this year by local anti-corruption investigators. At the time, Blake’s lawyer said it was in connection with suspicion of allegations of secret commission and money laundering in relation to the signing of two loan agreements on behalf of CIFA with regards to two amounts of US$600,000. Blake has cooperated with authorities and has insisted his innocence on the matter. Although no charges have come forth, Blake has been suspended indefinitely by CIFA.

Whittaker is an experienced match official.

Whittaker said part of his strategy is to show that the association is working towards a brighter future. “Once people see that you are working, they are willing to help. If you sit there and continue to cry, you will not get [any] help,” he said.

“For the past year and a half, there continues to be a tremendous cry to FIFA, to CONCACAF, to anybody who will listen [that] we don’t have money. It is time to stop crying and it is time to get up and work and start showing some kind of leadership…The most immediate thing is to show the people on the outside that there is a structure. We continue to have nothing to show.”

Outgoing president Ramoon, to his credit, has been working on issues not often in the public spotlight. In June, CIFA announced that it had hired Grant Thornton as auditors to undertake forensic and financial statement audits of CIFA financial transactions and activity from inception. That work continues. The executive has also been working with FIFA to restore the financial and operational integrity of the association.

Joining Whittaker on the executive committee is former national player Dion Brandon, who has also coached the national U20 men’s team as recently as 2016. Brandon was elected as second vice president at the Congress. He replaces Peter Campbell, who opted not to seek re-election. Wendy Fisher was returned unopposed for the role of Deputy General Secretary/Acting General Secretary.

The full executive is:

President – Alfredo Whittaker

1st VP – Bruce Blake (suspended)

2nd VP – Dion Brandon

Deputy General Secretary/Acting General Secretary – Wendy Fisher

Assistant General Secretary – Mark Campbell

Treasurer – Armando Ebanks

Youth Committee Chairperson – Neil Murray

Referees’ Committee Chairperson – Livingston Bailey

Women’s Committee Chairperson – Vacant understands Blake’s position will be addressed at an extra ordinary congress meeting in the near future.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.