By Iva Wharton
President of Alpha United Football Club Odinga Lumumba yesterday sought to clear the air on his club’s decision to withdraw itself from under the umbrella of the Georgetown Football Association (GFA).
At a press conference yesterday at the Waterchris Hotel, Lumumba said he withdrew Alpha United from the GFA because of the present impasse between the GFA and the GFF.
That, he re-iterated was the only reason.
Alpha United was supportive of the GFA especially late last year when Lumumba assisted the GFA to run off the Banks Beer Knockout tournament after Alpha United was left out of the annual Kasif and Shanghai Football tournament which had the blessings of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF).
Now Alpha United has crossed the floor to the GFF camp.
According to Lumumba, the longer the impasse continues further puts Guyana’s football in jeopardy and Lumumba feels that the impasse could also affect his club’s chances of competing in international tournaments.
“I am not sure whether I can participate in the CONCACAF tournament. I am not sure if I still can,” he told the press conference yesterday.
“I have no evidence that I can, but I will investigate it. CONCACAF has not written nor have they told me that I can,” he added.
Lumumba said that the issue was not about Alpha United, but Guyana.
“Why make it the issue of my club. That is a small issue. Let’s look at the bigger picture. Playing with this dramatic problem can create a condition where the country is banned from World Cup football. It’s not about Alpha, it’s about Guyana. Clubs come and clubs go but Guyana will remain.”
He said individuals who wish to carry on the bitter struggle must make the decision as to whether it’s country first or club/association, adding that he will chose country first.
Lumumba pointed out that it was no secret that FIFA frowns on teams/associations who take matters to the Courts.
“There have been various incidents of team/associations taking federations to Court. Some have worked as recent as Trinidad. So it is particularly interesting that in a case of natural justice there is a possibility that the GFA might be correct even though FIFA has taken a position against such issues,” he said.
Lumumba said it was with the hope of finding a solution to the matter, that Alpha moved a motion at a General Council meeting which was accepted, but not acted upon.
The General Council, he said, had instructed the executives of the GFA to tell their lawyers to meet with the lawyer representing the GFF.
“Alpha was faced with a dilemma. Should we be part of a group that refuses to follow its own mandate; That seems bent on fighting instead of bent on resolving an important issue; that refuses to speak and sit down and have dialogue; be part of a group whose actions can cause Guyana to be disqualified from international football?” he asked.
He said that the executive of Alpha United wrote both the GFF and the GFA informing them of its intention to pull out from the GFA because of the slothfulness of the GFA to act on the matter and of its intention to join with the GFF to promote football in Guyana.
“Alpha don’t have to play for the rest of the year. We are prepared to do that. Players want to go, let them go, we will play next year, I wrote that. Any player who got a problem with what we are saying they can go, it wouldn’t bother me. I will give you an open letter with my signature, let them go, I am giving them permission to go, any one of them.”
Lumumba said Alpha United stands on principles and justice which, he said, was why he supported the GFA in the first instance to take the matter to Court.
Lumumba said the only way forward on this matter is for the two parties involved to meet…“and the GFA General Council has to get rid of those who are stopping the meetings. They got to meet, if Iran and everybody meeting, you don’t think Cuba and America do have some bilateral meetings, they have to meet. “ (Forbes) Burnham used to meet Cheddie (Jagan), (Desmond) Hoyte met with (Bharrat) Jagdeo and (Donald)Ramotar is meeting with (David) Granger, so who is those two people not to meet?,” he asked.
Lumumba said after withdrawing from the GFA and the Namilco tournament, no sanction can be imposed on Alpha United as they are no longer affiliated to the association.
He added that he was disappointed that his club had withdrawn from the tournament given that Fruta Conquerors and Namilco have made significant contributions to football in Georgetown.