In my anxiety to observe the activities of the new management of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, I decided to pay close attention to certain comments emanating from President William Wallace. I regard him as reasonable in thought and reliable in actions – especially as it relates to issues with which he is involved. However, a recent headline that has attracted the attention of Caribbean countries needs to be discussed in detail. I have always been concerned about the leadership policies of (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) CONCACAF.
An Era Gone
Those of us who were around in the era when CONCACAF Presidents were in control [of FIFA?] will remember the vibrancy of people like the former Suriname Minister of Sport, Andre Kamperveen – an outstanding individual – whose ability to play the game so attracted the people of Holland to the extent that he was often invited to represent clubs in that country – having regard to the fact that Suriname was a province of the Dutch nation.
His objective was to provide equal opportunities for Caribbean countries within the parent organisation – an effort that met with some success as evidenced by the ascendancy of his native country Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Haiti. Unfortunately, due to his untimely death, his attempts were grounded. His successor, our own Austen Jack Warner was able to earn the votes in order to reach the vacant position of CONCACAF President in the early eighties. We are all aware of the very negative image that FIFA painted of the members of the then CONCACAF administration, the consequences of which led to accusations of financial misbehaviour on the part of Caribbean football administrators, causing FIFA and CONCACAF to remove those whom they found guilty.
Our Current Position
The United States of America, in its obvious desire to take the leading role in whatever sport its players participated, skilfully canvassed individual CFU countries for votes that would propel their officers into, not only the CONCACAF management but also within the walls of FIFA’s head office in Zurich.
The recent comment from the TTFA President as reported in the Express caused me to reflect on the current state of Caribbean football. Of particular interest was his view that the adjustments relating to competitions in the CONCACAF were certainly leading to the demise of football in the region. Maybe the bitter pill of dishonesty that caused the removal of the CFU administrators in their various positions was recognized by the President, hence his comment.
I certainly share the view of the TTFA President that the formula for qualifying to reach the Gold Cup finals is unfair. I think that in an effort to regain the respect of the Caribbean citizens involved in the business of International Football, the elected Presidents of each country must be willing to engage in regular communication. The votes of the Caribbean Football Union could have easily won the position of President thereby creating a forum for countries in the region to express meaningful ideas for the benefit of all.
President Wallace has made a sensible comment and it should not be disregarded. There is now an opportunity for the outstanding leadership qualities of Caribbean people to come to the fore. We should not allow ourselves to be led in a manner that deprives us of whatever benefits FIFA offered in the past.
A Standard to Adhere To
CONCACAF and all other confederations need to improve the quality of soccer in their regions. There are far too many hurdles that have impeded the progress of Caribbean football. My advice is to convene a symposium that will facilitate intelligent dialogue from persons who can guide the destiny of the region, not for personal reasons, but for the opportunity to show leadership of good quality – and collectively support the most competent administrator with the knowledge and experience to the region to a more recognizable stage.
All that the CFU must do to regain control, is to collectively vote for the selected Caribbean person and CONCACAF will have another President, and automatically a Vice President of FIFA.