robert cavallucci

Football Queensland: The nightmare before Christmas

Extensive whistleblower testimony provided to SPORT & POLITICS shows Football Queensland (FQ) to be riven by allegations of sexual misconduct, racism, bullying and sexism.

It is alleged that its President Ben Richardson – who we revealed in August to have lied extensively on his CV ahead of the federation’s election – rose to office off the back of a mishandled sexual misconduct case.

Further allegations include:

  • misuse of funds
  • culture of paranoia and fear
  • racism
  • sexism
  • faulty HR and recruitment processes

They further bring into question why Football Federation Australia (FFA) has not intervened in the ongoing saga of a state federation that seems to be out of control.

Instead, we understand that the FFA CEO, James Johnson, has partnered with Football Queensland in a pilot project on governance.

Christmas hijinks

When Football Queensland’s staff and directors gather at the Wilston home of its CEO Robert Cavallucci this Friday (11 December) for the organisation’s Christmas party, the bosses of the troubled state federation will be hoping that the event passes more peaceably than the Christmas Party it staged two years ago.

Hosted at the Pineapple Hotel near the Gabba, Football Queensland’s 2018 Christmas party was a boozy, raucous and fun affair. The state federation had flown down members from its zones for a day of meetings, which were to be concluded with a night of partying. The Pineapple has been serving food and booze to Brisbanites for 150 years and offers ‘signature steaks, pub classics, woodfired pizzas and bar snacks’ to its patrons. Its bar, it boasts, ‘projects gentlemanly character mixed with a good dash of larrikin.’ Although it was still only November, everyone was enjoying themselves.

But at the president’s table, the conversation took on a more sordid complexion. A female member of staff had attracted the attention of Glenn Smith, then president, who was deep in conversation with another board member, Tony Davis.

‘He made a lewd and disgusting comment about the size of her breasts,’ said a FQ staffer.

The staff member who was subject of this unwanted attention wasn’t present at the table, but two other colleagues were. Appalled by the conduct of the organisation’s president they reported the comments to Football Queensland’s then CEO Richard Griffiths.

The case of Ben Richardson and the accomplices in the Football Federation Australia, in media and even Sport Integrity Australia

Support Bonita Mersiades!

Serious and unanswered questions remain about how the spurious and illegitimate defamation case against activist, writer and whistleblower, Bonita Mersiades, is being funded, despite questions being raised at the highest levels of the sport in Australia.

Football Queensland (FQ) bosses Ben Richardson and Robert Cavallucci are seeking to destroy Mersiades by claiming $800,000 in damages (plus interest) with a bogus lawsuit, alleging defamation for a story that is nothing more than a factually correct report. You can read about the case here:

  1. How an out of touch federation is trying to destroy Australian sporting hero and whistleblower, Bonita Mersiades
  2. The curious case of Benjamin Richardson
  3. The Ben Richardson Case: Queensland Spin Cycle
  4. The Ben Richardson Case. Mysterious Hack Attacks from Queensland.
  5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Richardson: The recruitment consultant and the dodgy CV

There are many questions about the error strewn legal documents submitted to the Queensland Court by the pair’s lawyer Ashley Tiplady (Mills Oakley) who even managed in one filing to get the name of the website in which this so-called defamation took place wrong, but one fundamental question will not go away:

Who is funding this ridiculous case?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Richardson: The recruitment consultant and the dodgy CV

CV Ben Richardson, July 2020

Football Queensland president Benjamin Richardson has left behind a string of failed businesses, owing the Australian revenue at least $150,000 of unpaid taxes, while a bankrupt company under his control has drawn the condemnation of a liquidator for breaches of corporate law.

Richardson also misled voters when successfully standing for re-election as FQ President last month by circulating a curriculum vitae full of distortions and half-truths

The scandal raises serious questions of FQ’s and FFA’s due diligence processes and is out-of-step with FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport guidelines on integrity checks for senior level office-holders.

Richardson, along with FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci, is engaged in a spurious defamation case against Australian football activist, publisher and whistleblower Bonita Mersiades.

Richardson and Cavallucci are seeking $800,000 plus interest. They want to destroy Mersiades.

Putting this absurd, formidable demand against the backdrop of Richardson’s strange business practices, there may be some important answers.

We have written about the case here:

The Ben Richardson Case. Mysterious Hack Attacks from Queensland.

Over the past week a number of individuals connected with Bonita Mersiades’s fight for justice against a spurious defamation action that is intended to destroy her (remember, the plaintiffs Benjamin Richardson and Robert Cavallucci are seeking $800,000 PLUS interest) have encountered the sharp end of these twenty-first century crimes.

Hacking. Fake email accounts. Denial-of-service attacks.

Cybercrime.

We published our first investigation on the Ben Richardson case last Friday. It has caused a stir in Australia, far beyond the football community.

Only a few hours later, last weekend, and again on the early hours of Wednesday, right after the publication of our third article, this website encountered at least two separate denial of service attempts and was for a short period not accessible.

Investigators have told us these crude attacks were linked to a single computer in Queensland, Australia.

Mysterious.

The Ben Richardson Case: Queensland Spin Cycle

This is part 3 of our series on alarming problems of Good Governance in Australian football federations, on the suppression of free journalism, threats to whistleblowers and, in particular, on the curious case of Benjamin Richardson, president of Football Queensland (FQ).

According to whistleblower testimony Football Queensland hired an expensive crisis management consultancy following publication of articles in the Brisbane Courier-Mail (‘Let’s tackle junior sport’s absurd fees’/paywall) and Football Today (‘Cost of paying increases in Queensland’) about its chairman Ben Richardson paying himself $44,000.

The regional football association may have paid as much as $15,000 for these ‘crisis management’ services to Rowland, which was once Australia’s largest independent PR agency and is now a part of the Fleishmanhillard network. FQ is currently engaged in an expensive and spurious defamation case against Australian whistleblower and writer, Bonita Mersiades over one of the articles.

Benjamin Richardson and Robert Cavallucci, CEO of Football Queensland, instigated by their lawyer Ashley Tiplady (Mills Oakley), want to destroy Mersiades for her factually correct report. They are chasing a grand total of $800,000 reparations from Mersiades –  plus interest – in the Queensland courts.

Not only do they use football’s money for their dubious legal attempt to destroy Mersiades; they waste even more of FQ’s money – which belongs to mums and dads and their kids who pay their fees in good faith – for the services of an expensive PR and crisis management company.

We have written about this dubious case here, and we provided the most important documents that will, perhaps, lead to investigations of relevant authorities.

The curious case of Benjamin Richardson

Football Queensland, 2017 Annual Report, page 7

We need to talk about Benjamin Richardson, the president of Football Queensland (FQ), who is seeking to destroy whistleblower and author Bonita Mersiades via a spurious defamation case.

Richardson and Robert Cavallucci, CEO of Football Queensland, complain of an alleged defamation that is in fact nothing more than a factually correct report by Bonita Mersiades.

Together with their lawyer Ashley Tiplady (Mills Oakley), who claims to have reported us to Queensland police for daring to ask questions (although we still await a crime reference number, despite our repeated requests for one, so that we may perform our civic duty and share information with them), the gentlemen are chasing a grand total of $800,000 reparations from Mersiades –  plus interest – in the Queensland courts.

We explained the case last Friday (‚How an out of touch federation is trying to destroy Australian sporting hero and whistleblower, Bonita Mersiades‘), on the basis of documents, not on the basis of absurd medieval defamation documents, through which the lawyer Tiplady –  whose business we will also take a closer look at – has let down his clients with poorly worded legal briefs.

Richardson and Cavallucci will fail. Tiplady too.

How an out of touch federation is trying to destroy Australian sporting hero and whistleblower, Bonita Mersiades

Whistleblowers assume a special place in sporting culture. ‚These,‘ said Jens Sejer Anderson of Denmark’s Play The Game Institute in a 2017 speech, ‚are the unsung heroes who have shown the rest of us the true picture of the challenges around us. Without them, we would not know the reality on the ground and we would be fumbling in the dark.‘

Photo: Play the Game/Thomas Søndergaard

In our careers in journalism, Bonita Mersiades has been foremost among these brave voices. Sacked a decade ago from Australia’s 2022 World Cup for being ‚too honest‘, she cast a light on one of the most rotten sporting contests in history and her brave stance directly contributed to the US Department of Justice taking long-awaited action against FIFA. Her reputation as a whistleblower, author and activist globally is peerless. Her reputation amongst leading investigative journalists, criminal investigators, law enforcement agencies and academics working on sport corruption all over the world cannot be better.

Nevertheless, Bonita’s contribution to football has always transcended this narrow description as a whistleblower. First she was an activist in an early-century Australian game still struggling to broaden itself away from the national and ethnic rivalries of the immigrants who built the game to the ‚lucky country‘. Next she was a brilliant and formidable executive at FFA as the country staked its place in Asian football. Since the disastrous World Cup bid she has been the author of a formidable expose on FIFA’s rottenness, publisher of a small press, and editor of an excellent news website.

Her book ‚Whatever It Takes – the Inside Story of the FIFA Way‘ is brilliant, far beyond the Australian World Cup bid, peppered with numerous exclusive details – an absolute must-read. And, she donated all proceeds of the book to the Pararoos in their fundraising campaign to participate in international competition.

This is Bonita Mersiades.