The CONCACAF Gold Cup fixture continues to be a major confederation tournament.
I distinctly recall the amount of travel supporters had to do in order to see their countries qualify for the tournament. However, it was a disadvantage when these qualifying teams didn’t have the number of supporters as the host countries. Admittedly, it’s why larger countries like the USA and Mexico host these matches on a regular basis. This often bothers Central American and Caribbean countries.
CONCACAF Hosting Woes
Matches were often scheduled in a manner which appeared advantageous to the USA team, with the home support of the fans in various cities. Additionally, these teams benefit from officials to administer the aspects of field preparation, climate conditions, and time changes. These are just some of the advantages that the home teams reap. Meanwhile, fans of the other teams face challenges such as applying for visas to witness athe games.
It was always difficult to know how CONCACAF chose host venue especially as the Caribbean accounted for the most CONCACAF votes in. Persons like Andre Kamperveen of Surinam and later Jack Warner and Cayman Islands President Jeffrey Webb were all CONCACAF members. However, it seemed that Messrs Warner and Webb thought that the Caribbean was incapable of hosting such a competition. Therefore, they voted for North America.
I understand why they did. The advantages of crowd support, the size of stadia, hotel and transport available to the fans are invaluable benefits. Mexico sometimes got to host matches because of the great support they got in any venue. We’re all aware that Mexicans are obsessed with the great game, and would support their national team anywhere in the world.
A few of the Caribbean countries were able to sometimes reach the semifinal and on one occasion, a final. Countries like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Martinique qualified on a regular basis. Others like Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines got the odd opportunity.
With all the pluses for hosting in the major countries, the regional countries supported these locations without challenge. This was especially so if they saw an opportunity to gain assistance from the major stakeholders in the confederation.
The Downfall of the Caribbean
Today, it is completely different due to erroneous behaviour by Caribbean members who had key positions in the ruling body. The results were that these allegedly guilty persons were removed from their respective positions, leaving the smear of dishonesty. The Caribbean region took the fall with a loss of confidence from the FIFA governing body. It was easy to sweep the Caribbean region under the rug to justify a clean slate. A bunch of newcomers took the region’s place as they were able to justify their credibility by toeing the line.
Those who fell in love with the new FIFA leaders gained some favours from the newcomers in order to seek support for future elections. Due to the absence of confidence in Caribbean countries, it appeared that each representative either did not care or turned a blind eye. The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) never asked the current leaders questions to better understand their plans.
Not to assume any form of discredit about the leader but it was disgusting when the media reported that ALL Caribbean votes went to the incumbent after a one-day meeting.
The Way Forward for Caribbean Football
Are we in the Caribbean satisfied with the quality of coaching for the region? Why could the CFU not find a reliable and qualified leader to hold the position of CONCACAF president? Not to discredit the incumbent, but to seek the ideas of contenders especially relating to the development of the Caribbean.
In 2013, FIFA held a Technical Directors meeting during the U-20 World Cup in Turkey. FIFA asked me to produce a formula to develop positive improvement for the lesser developed countries in the region. The report was well-received but was never implemented, because it was the period when the allegedly guilty were removed. They preferred to postpone the activity of all the committees until they resettled. That was the last of the committee for about two years before bringing some new names.
That is the weakness of our Caribbean people and while I am pleased that Jamaica will host Gold Cup matches, it would be beneficial to study Caribbean Football more holistically.