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Gabon : FIFA Investigates Use of Soccer Development Grant to Gabon

By Alex Duff and Antoine Lawson

LIBREVILLE, May 29 (Infosplusgabon) - A FIFA appointee is investigating the use of a $548,262 grant paid to Gabon’s defense ministry to promote soccer as the sport’s ruling body tightens regulations on managing development funds, Bloomberg  reports.

 

 Dieudonne Ndoumbou, who was made acting president of a committee overseeing Gabon soccer last month, said by telephone he’s looking into what happened to the money that should have been used to build a training center in Libreville, the capital. FIFA said in an e-mail the grant was approved in 2005 and it plans to check on the progress of the unfinished project on a visit in June or July.

 Eight officials in Gabon’s defense and sports ministries declined to comment on what the grant was used for, saying they didn’t want to risk losing their jobs. Alphonse Bandah, a communication ministry official, referred a request for comment to Justice Minister Ida Reteno Assonouet, who declined to be interviewed for this story.

 Not-for-profit FIFA, which in March reported revenue of $1.16 billion for 2012, distributes some income from World Cup television and sponsorship rights sales to develop soccer, mostly in poorer nations. About one-third of some 500 projects since 1999 have been in Africa.

 Ndoumbou, a former referee, said he was doing an inventory to see why the training center wasn’t built.

 “Why isn’t it finished? It’s a long story,” Ndoumbou said. “If you know Africa, some cultures in Africa, you will understand why it’s not finished. We have to check bit-by-bit what happened.”

 Unusual Choice

 He said it was unusual for FIFA to award the grant to the defense ministry.

 “Normally, it must be a private company,” Ndoumbou said.

 FIFA said in an e-mail the Gabon soccer federation had picked the contractor.

 Zurich-based FIFA has handed out about $2 billion in development funds since 1999 during Sepp Blatter’s presidency. It plans to increase regulation of the grants as part of reforms following the ousting or resignation since 2011 of at least four officials, including Blatter’s predecessor Joao Havelange, amid ethics investigations.

 

FIN/INFOSPLUSGABON/ANL/GABON 2013

 

©2013 Bloomberg

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