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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

Exclusive | Gorkšs: Latvian football body has written off large sums needed for development

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Kaspars Gorkšs

For the financial crimes of the Latvian Football Federation (LFF) and the money it has spent unreasonably, we will most likely pay today, taking away tomorrow’s money for the development of football, said LFF’s ousted president Kaspars Gorkšs in an interview with the BNN. «One has to go firmly against the [former] secretaries-general for mistakes permitted in the past. Sanctions should not be limited to some calculated return of a tax, which could be taken from football money. These people have to be called to [real] responsibility».

In the LFF, the two former secretaries-general were Jānis Mežeckis and Edgars Pukinskis. However, Gorkšs did not survive a vote of no-confidence in the body’s third emergency convention this year on October 17 and was suspended from the post of the president of the LFF, losing by a majority seven votes.

«We cannot find a gum stuck under a table, put it in our mouth, chew it and hope that it would get its taste back».

Gorkšs uses the quote to describe the current situation of the LFF. Namely, a large part of its current members, he believes, do not want changes, which would affect the system the way money intended for football has been used before.

Gorkšs reveals to BNN that at the time of him taking office, the development goals were one thing, yet they transformed in a certain way as he had to face the mistakes permitted in the past.

«The LFF had to face the statement of an auditor, who pointed to a series of LFF shortcomings, which had been permitted in the financial and organisational work. These shortcomings have to be averted».

The organisation of funding, administrative work had been the responsibility of the two previous secretaries-general.

«The demands set by auditors apply directly to their duties. Writing various invoices and paying taxes has been their responsibility. Evidently, there has been no will to change the long-standing way of doing things. These were my biggest discoveries after taking over routine work and financial affairs in the Latvian Football Federation.»

Contracts with fictitious indications. Political pressure. «Leaked» money

Political pressure had been felt in the post of the LFF president, Gorkšs claims, throughout his one-and-a-half years in office and had been a part of the post. Listing the president’s areas of work, Gorkšs notes: «First, there is routine work, which I had to take over completely. Second, the realisation of the vision of development. However, the third thing I had to face was the resistance that was shown so that some things of the past would not be looked into and that I would not point to shortcomings. An outside drive to take over the power was felt.»

Gorkšs emphasises that the administration and responsible officials [in football] have to take responsibility for the LFF not submitting to the state reports on the funding it has received for several years.

«Reports on the funding of several football events have not been submitted. There is a series of violations, including tax avoidance. There is using potential employment contracts as a part of remuneration for work. There are contracts with the Football Federation or people close to it with indications of fictitious contracts, which has to be investigated and which set forth the calculation of taxes and, of course, their payments.»

In addition, Gorkšs emphasised that one of the «holes» is deals with subsidiary companies of the Football Federation, where large sums, which could have been allocated to the development of the sport, have been written off.

«The Football Federation has lent large sums to its subsidiaries, which get further lent to private individuals and the subsidiaries themselves are subjected to liquidation with the decision of a single official of the Football Federation.» Namely, with this system, it is possible that people do not have to pay the money back to anyone.

One of the first emergency conventions on the removal of Gorkšs took place after an audit in a training centre in the Vidzeme town of Staicele was complete. «It has long been a child of care of the Latvian Football Federation. We discovered, you can say, a system of branches of companies. Also, [we discovered] that the Football Federation to a large extent maintains the private school of Jānis Bakmanis with its own funding, thus to some extent taking away money from the development of football».

Gorkšs notes that in the operations of the previous LFF administrations, contracts with fictitious indications were found – missing certificates of acceptance and reports on the work done. In addition, clarity was missing on whether people close to the Football Federation are at all qualified to provide certain services, says the former star footballer.

«In many instances, contracts were missing from the LFF’s records that would indicate that the deals have been done and are legitimate».

«Here, we arrive at a situation, where a person not fit for the job is appointed»

According to Gorkšs, the current situation in the LFF is unordinary – a crisis situation even – as its board has not appointed a secretary-general for a long time. «We did not have one. Also, after the vote of no-confidence, the LFF has been left without a person with the right to sign documents. The routine processes in the LFF are troubled right now».

Sharing his view about why the LFF seeks to appoint political figures rather than people with thorough understating of the field of sports, Gorkšs commented: «It is one of the main tasks of the president to establish a link with the state, municipal and international organisations. Often, this necessity is misunderstood in the way that a politician or a person linked to municipalities has to be appointed to the post of the president, bacause it automatically facilitates the creation of such ties.»

Discussing the necessary qualities of the next LFF president, Gorkšs stresses that his successor should definitely push the commenced changes forward. «I am proud about the things we began. I would like to see someone, who takes responsibility and brings these processes to an end. It will be a major test to the board, because now, it has decided to confirm a secretary-general, who will have to go against himself, with the demand to explain the things he has done in the past. Here, we arrive at a situation, where a person not fit for the job is appointed».

«The considerable number of the members, who supported me, proves that [in the LFF] there are members, who seek change, who want to finish the process of the inner «cleansing» the organisation. After a long period of stagnation, it is necessary and only that can be used as a clean platform to build on. Then we will be able to focus on things, which are positive».

«For example, the fight against match fixing, the unprecedented ministry funding to regional football infrastructure, the large international events we have organised. There are many positive things taking place in football, but this background unfortunately creates a slightly bitter aftertaste, making it less positive. Therefore I have the hope that both the board and the person taking my place will work in their posts with full responsibility,» says former star footballer and the recently ousted president of the LFF, Kaspars Gorkšs.

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