SPORTS

League Furore

The Kaiviti Silktail players were paid AUD$300 (FJ$461) per month to play in the New South Wales Cup’s Ron Massey competition, it has been revealed.
14 Jun 2022 12:59
League Furore
Petero Civoniceva (right) in Sydney in 2021, with a member of the Kaiviti Silktails

The Kaiviti Silktail players were paid AUD$300 (FJ$461) per month to play in the New South Wales Cup’s Ron Massey competition, it has been revealed.

Club chairperson, National Rugby League (NRL) legendary forward Petero Civoniceva, said they did not underpay the players as claimed by reports on social media.

This was the first time Civoniceva had spoken publicly after Fiji Na­tional Rugby League (FNRL) chair­man, Viliame Naupoto, confirmed that they were severing all ties with the Silktails.

Naupoto made the announcement in the presence of Fiji National Sports Commission executive chairman Peter Mazey in Suva, last week.

Civoniceva said: “Our AU$300 per month allowance is well-document­ed to our players, before they sign with us.

“We have had players who refused to sign as they felt they could earn better money elsewhere, which is absolutely fine as we want the best for all players.

“We tell the boys- we are not the NRL, we are not financially sup­ported like the (Fijian) Drua. The Silktails is only a development pathway team. It is up to them to play well and to go from us to better opportunities.”

The other expenses of meals, ac­commodation and transportation were paid by the club.

Grievances

This pay issue grievances were raised by some players who com­plained what they received was well below the minimum wage stand­ards in Australia and even Fiji.

According to the Australia Gov­ernment’s Fair Work Ombudsman the minimum wage as of July 1, 2021 was AU$20.33 (FJ$31) per hour. After 38 hours of work, it is AU$772.60 per week (FJ$1185.94).

In comparison a Silktails player received AU$75 per week (FJ$115). In Fiji, under the $4 an hour mini­mum wage rate, a worker would receive FJ$160 a week or $640 a month. The players could not do a lot with their money let alone save it.

Civoniceva said they invested their funding wisely by building the club’s infrastructure and re­sources.

He indicated these were the Silk­tails EDP Gyms (Centre of Excel­lence) in Lautoka, Sigatoka, Suva, Ra, Ratu Kadavulevu School and the new Silktails High Performance gym in Sydney, Australia.

“There was more to come this year. We also own a team bus and five vans,” he added.

Civoniceva refuted accusations against him and Silktails chief executive officer Stephen Driscoll over their management of funds.

“Our (Silktails) rental payment per month alone in Sydney is AU$24,000 (FJ$37,000). Our support comes from the Australia Govern­ment and controlled by the NSWRL (New South Wales Rugby League). So we have to report and account for all our spending.”

Civoniceva alleged that he had received constant threats and the works on the Silktails development programme had been undermined.

He claimed that a senior FNRL executive in Suva had emailed the Australian Government, NRL, NSWRL and Rugby League Interna­tional labelling them as foreigners and they could not operate here.

Foreign interest

“It was those foreign interests that would help keep rugby league alive in Fiji during COVID-19,” Civonice­va said.

“The NRL, NSWRL, IRL all agreed to ignore the emails and let us con­tinue. Peter Mazey advised us that we were still within out rights to continue operations despite the dissolution of our previous MOA (Memorandum of Agreement).”

Civoniceva highlighted that after the first round of the Ron Massey Cup was cancelled due to the pan­demic, they had decided in good spirit to divert a portion of their Pac AusSports funding for the fol­lowing:

  • Paid $22,000 for the registering fees for all Vodafone Cup clubs for the 2021 season;
  • Paid $15,000 for kit and a pre-season for FNRL;
  • Supplied balls, water bottles and carriers to the Fiji Secondary Schools;
  • Continued $15,000 support to the FNRL headquarters High Perfor­mance Gym fit out; and
  • Paid for the outstanding mas­sage bills for the Fiji Bati campaign at the 2021 Pacific Cup in New Zea­land.

Civoniceva said they only stepped in to pay after the massage com­pany came to them six months after the event.

Naupoto’s reply

A copy of Civoniceva’s statement was sent to Naupoto who stated: “Nothing new. I have no further comments on this issue. We are fo­cusing on our preparations for the Rugby League World Cup. They cancelled the MOU unilaterally and they have to accept the consequenc­es.”

Feedback: simione.haravanua@fijisun.com.fj



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Subscribe-to-Newspaper