4 Aug 2021

Fiji 7s fundraisers fall flat

2:44 pm on 4 August 2021

Attempts to raise money for Fiji's champion sevens teams have fallen foul of regulations.

Fiji's Aloesi Nakoci (L) runs past Britain's Alex Matthews to score a try in the women's bronze medal rugby sevens match.

Fiji's Aloesi Nakoci (L) runs past Britain's Alex Matthews to score a try in the women's bronze medal rugby sevens match. Photo: AFP

The Fiji men won gold in Tokyo last week while the Fijiana defeated Great Britain in the bronze medal match to claim their first ever Olympic medal.

Fiji's medal rush led a group of supporters to set up fundraising accounts to raise funds for the Fiji players "as a small token of gratitude".

One account for the Fijiana players, using the M-PAiSA mobile phone money transfer service, had raised almost $2000 in just a few days, but the money will now be refunded after the Fiji Rugby Union said it received complaints from the team's management.

"It has been brought to Fiji Rugby's attention that a few entities, individuals and social clubs have started circulating and promoting fundraising activities for the Fijian and Fijiana 7s teams online in particular through social media," the FRU said in a statement.

"The Fiji Rugby Union wishes to clarify that none of these initiatives have been approved or endorsed by Team Fiji or Fiji Rugby."

Fiji players celebrate with their gold medals while standing on the podium after the victory ceremony following the men's final rugby sevens match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on July 28, 2021.

Photo: AFP

The Fiji men's sevens team are contracted to the FRU but Fijiana 7 coach Saiasi Fuli said his players are only paid an allowance when they are together.

"They are all unemployed and they receive a small contract from FRU, and while we come here on tour they receive allowances and that's it," he said.

"I think the contracts end straight after this - I don't know what's out there with FRU. It's really a tough campaign for us. They're all unemployed, but it's good that this bronze medal can open a lot of ideas and programmes and incentives."

The Fijiana 7s will also don the new Nike kit.

The Fijiana sevens teams are not on full-time contracts. Photo: Fiji Rugby

Fiji Rugby said none of the various fundraising initiatives had applied for relevant fundraising permits from relevant government agencies and had not sought the approval of the Team Fiji or the FRU.

"We have had to initiate action after we had received concerns and complaints from the management of the team that they are not aware of such initiatives, nor have been consulted on any of the initiatives.

"While Fiji Rugby appreciates the kind gesture and support for the sevens teams it wishes to clarify that all public fundraising initiatives must comply with all relevant laws including permits, tax clearance and relevant sanctions by the Team Fiji or Fiji Rugby with transparent processes."

FRU Chief Executive John O'Connor said "we have no issues with fundraising as long as all legal requirements according to fundraising in Fiji is complied with".

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