Bonita Mersiades has issued an apology to Football Queensland directors Rob Cavallucci and Ben Richardson to settle their defamation action against her.
- Bonita Mersiades and Fair Play Publishing issued an apology and a retraction of a January 2020 article
- Football Queensland said in a statement an undisclosed sum was paid to Rob Cavallucci and Ben Richardson, which was donated to football-related charities
- Football Queensland said it “welcomes the settlement of this matter”
Football Queensland issued a statement on Thursday confirming that the defamation action had been settled, with Mersiades and Fair Play Publishing issuing a retraction and an apology.
Football Queensland said: “An undisclosed sum was paid to the plaintiffs Cavallucci and Richardson by Bonita Mersiades, which will be donated in its entirety to football-related charities.”
“Football Queensland welcomes the settlement of this matter and looks forward to continuing its focus as the governing body of the sport in Queensland, on growing the game and supporting the members and participants of our football community across the state.”
Cavallucci and Richardson opened defamation proceedings against Mersiades after the latter wrote an article criticising the process which led to the recruitment of Cavallucci as chief executive.
Mersiades’s apology states, “On 24 January 2020 I published an article entitled ‘Costs of playing increases in Queensland’ (‘Article’).”
“It has been brought to my attention that some people may have interpreted the Article to mean that Mr Robert Cavallucci and Mr Ben Richardson were corrupt, dishonest, acted disreputably and were in dereliction of their duties owed to Football Queensland in their respective positions as chairman and director.
“Separately, as against Mr Richardson, the Article may have been interpreted to mean that he favoured his personal interests by securing an appointment as a consultant to search for a replacement chief executive officer and was dishonest in rendering an invoice to Football Queensland for consulting work he did not undertake.
“I did not intend any such suggestions to arise. Those suggestions would be untrue and unfounded.
“I wish to apologise to Mr Cavallucci and Mr Richardson for any hurt, distress and embarrassment the Article and subsequent publications may have caused to them and their families.
“I also wish to apologise that public assertions of truth of the above suggestions were made in court proceedings, which were subsequently broadcast on the Australian Broadcast Corporation’s ‘7:30’ program on 25 November 2020.”
Mersiades’ apology went on to state that: “The position is Mr Cavallucci was appointed to the role of CEO of Football Queensland after an extensive recruitment process that ultimately led to his appointment in the role and the fee increase to player registration fees was approved by the board before Mr Cavallucci was offered the role of CEO of Football Queensland.”
“Following the resignation of the former CEO of Football Queensland, Mr Richardson provided executive services to the organisation, which was without a chief executive officer while also undertaking the recruitment process over a two-month period, which process resulted in Mr Cavallucci being unanimously appointed by the board of Football Queensland.”