Now that the superficial friendship between the Concacaf and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) strengthens, the proposal for professional Football in the Caribbean was immediately placed on the card from the president of the Concacaf. I suppose that the information regarding pro soccer in the Caribbean is not as well known to the management of Concacaf. They have not demonstrated any assistance to the member association in the CFU regarding professional football.
Surely, in Trinidad and Tobago, the early days of the ASL league which was off to an exciting start in the early eighties were not familiar to North and Central America. After what appeared to be a high-quality football performance level, the crowds filled the stadium on Long Circular Road in St. James. Arthur Suite, the owner and compulsive lover of Football, invested and managed brilliantly, with a marketing strategy that literally brought thousands of fans to the ground, with ardent supporters to each club.
If the continuity of strong management was given the support by the TTFA in the manner that would have strengthened competition in all areas, then Concacaf’s interest may have been part of their recently announced intention. Unfortunately, the project failed to continue for genuine efforts between the ruling body and the franchise holder, causing the Owners to differ strongly and eventually part ways.
While the quality of play continued to bring the large audience spectator clientele, a number of issues wended their way into disrepute, bringing a halt to what could have taken the quality football in the direction to which they were accustomed. A few years later, through the influence which emanated positively between the TTFA president (at the time) and leading some clubs to participate in another CPL (Caribbean professional league) in the Caribbean.
After quite a productive start to the first-ever Caribbean professional league. Teams from Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, and Trinidad/Tobago and other islands, demonstrated some enthusiasm where the players traveled from country to country for home and away contest, the future looked good. The first year was excellent and the image of ultimate success gave a very enthusiastic aroma to the future. After some intensive matches the first year, there was room for more progression in the next year.
However, because of the cost of travel and hotel accommodation for the clubs, going forward was affected by the losing teams in their early matches. They were unable to finance their travel commitment when they realized that their position on the table after a few defeats were not entitled to big prizes. After having heard of the Concacaf’s president’s interest in Pro Football, I wondered why would the North American portion of the confederation wish to assist the CFU in their offer to be involved.
For many different reasons, I sincerely hope that the CFU leaders would think seriously and have dialogues regarding the offer. In the first place, the clubs of the MLS have been using our key players in the Caribbean for many years, and I do not expect that practice to change, especially when the talented CFU stars have been enjoying athletic scholarships at US Universities. This move was really to expose the US and Canadian coaches to have the first choice after their education stint. This weakened the local Caribbean clubs immensely, and with the economies of the region, salaries would have been apologetic as compared to the MLS.
Nevertheless, one issue of maximum interest to the North American zone of the Concacaf may have had another important interest, and that is their desire to earn control of football in the Confederation. They have been battling for years to have the presidency of the Concacaf so that they are viewing the financial gain when the Gold Cup tournament comes by. The usual format for this competition has been discussed for many years, with the last symposium being held in Turkey. The plan offers to the Caribbean an opportunity to have a more logical grouping and also more fixtures between the major countries and the CFU being exposed through competitive matches in different parts of the Caribbean.
Maybe the Concacaf has decided to demonstrate assistance to their friends in the Caribbean, as we have witnessed in the TTFA’s recent attempt following the opening of the “Home of Football”. For the past seven to ten years, the exposure of administrative malpractices accomplished Caribbean leaders during the period of their Concacaf leadership. Assuming that the eyes of the CFU should be focused upon the only means of providing a balanced deal in Concacaf football is when they utilize their twenty-five votes as opposed to a measly fifteen when the next Concacaf general Election comes by.
You may well be asking, why did the CFU not succeed in holding the reins of leadership in the recent elections? The numbers were the same in voters. Somehow, the influence seemed to have been silently purchased by the North Americans, as our Caribbean leaders were not accredited with honest and intelligent leaders to bring some credibility to the CFU.
My friends in the Caribbean, please get together and show the world that we have the experts. Let us search for those throughout the Caribbean and prepare well for the next general Concacaf meeting.