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May 22, 2013
Bangkok Post: New Fiji rugby boss says finances in crisis
New Fiji Rugby Union chairman Filimone Waqabaca said Tuesday he was determined to clean up the organisation's finances after it posted a FJ$600,000 (US$325,000) loss last year.
Fiji leader Voreqe Bainimarama is pictured in India on April 28, 2012. New Fiji Rugby Union chairman Filimone Waqabaca, who was elected after being nominated by Bainimarama, said Tuesday he was determined to clean up the organisation's finances after it posted a loss last year.
Waqabaca, a permanent finance secretary in the South Pacific nation's military-led government, was elected FRU chairman last weekend after being nominated by the regime's leader Voreqe Bainimarama.
He said Bainimarama -- a rugby fanatic who delayed seizing power in a 2006 coup so it did not interfere with a match between the police and military -- had told him to put the FRU back on a solid financial footing.
"He just congratulated me and asked me to clean up the place and turn things around and to do my best," Waqabaca told the Fiji Sun.
"I suppose that would be the wish of all die-hard rugby fans in this country, given the status of FRU and the performance of our national teams."
The FRU plunged into the red after failing to secure a sponsor for a tour to Europe late last year and is heavily reliant on development grants from the International Rugby Board (IRB).
"The FRU has a financial crisis which needs urgent attention," Waqabaca said, adding that one of his first tasks was to order a forensic audit of the FRU's books.
He said securing new sponsorship and reviewing staff numbers at the FRU were priorities.
Waqabaca said the IRB managed to run the game globally with about 60 staff but the FRU currently has about 40 employees, even though it oversees rugby in a country with a population of less than 900,000.
He said the FRU needed about FJ$10 million a year to operate.
"We have to gather strategies to get out of the situation that we're in financially," he said.