Fraud rocks Emerald soccer club: matter reported to police

HEAVY LOSS: The Emerald Junior Soccer Association has reported to police that a substantial amount of money has gone from the club’s coffers.
HEAVY LOSS: The Emerald Junior Soccer Association has reported to police that a substantial amount of money has gone from the club’s coffers. Contributed

THE Emerald Junior Soccer Association has been left stunned by the alleged theft of a substantial amount of money from the club.

The association reported the matter to the Emerald Criminal Investigation Branch and officer-in-charge Detective Sergeant Mick Polit said though no charges had yet been laid, investigations were continuing.

"I can... confirm that the Emerald Junior Soccer Association has made a complaint to police in relation to the theft of a substantial amount of money and investigations are progressing," Det Sgt Polit said.

The incident has also affected the Emerald Eagles club, an off-shoot of the EJSA.

"The club is dealing with an internal issue that has placed a massive financial burden on the club and, now more than ever, we need the support of our sponsors/members and playing group to work together to ensure a successful 2013 season," a club spokesman said.

Technical director of CQFC Energy and development officer Joe Fenech said he was extremely disappointed to learn of the investigation.

"It appears from internal investigations that a substantial amount of money has been misappropriated and as a result, we have been communicating with the club's insurer through Football Queensland and we referred the matter to police for their investigation," Fenech said.

 

Joe Fenech
Joe Fenech Chris Ison

"The matter, in my opinion, is criminal not civil."

 

The period of the alleged fraud is to be confirmed, but Fenech said the investigation went back to the last completed financial audit which looked at the past 12 months.

"Of course it's a surprise. Usually matters of financial impropriety occur through ignorance or the lack of training of volunteers but this one has stunned even myself," he said.

"It's always hard to take when trusted people are involved in any matter like this. I should stress volunteers are the backbone of a lot of sporting organisations.

"This shouldn't be a reflection of their contribution in sport in general. This is an isolated case.

"As a club there was a lot of people who assisted the club financially and would feel deprived of all their hard work.

"It is disappointing for them."

Though Fenech said this would bear heavily on the future of the club, he was confident it could recover.

"It's imperative they continue," Fenech said."The club should continue to strive and look forward. This is a situation a lot of people will learn a lot of lessons.

"The club (has) the opportunity to review its current standard of operating procedures.

"It's my job as regional director of coaching to assist wherever I can - I intend to do that."

Fenech was eager to see the EJSA recover, especially for the sake of the junior talent, who he said was the future of the club.

"We're all stunned by the enormity of the situation however we, the Emerald Eagles, all need to get our heads together and do what's best for the kids in the region," he said.

"The Emerald committee is keen to move forward... but they can't dwell on what's happened."

Fenech said he was "extremely confident" of the club's future and with the amount of talent there, he was expecting bigger and better things, especially from the men's teams this season.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the Emerald Eagles compete in the CQ premier league and may that continue," he said.

"They were impressive last year. I am proud of them. In their first year, it's a credit to the players and coaching staff."



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