The endorsements have been numerous, the hype bigger than ever and this year’s election for Guyana Football Federation (GFF) president promises to be the most eagerly awaited ever in the sport.
With the disgraced former president Colin Klass out of the picture, due to a FIFA ban, that was long imminent, and the realization that stakes can rise to sky-high limits, based on the national team’s historic World Cup preliminary campaign success, has resulted in embolding a number of wanna-be presidents to throw their hats into the ring with gusto.
In other words, the expression “Country comes first” instead of a me-first mentality should be the motto of the man who wants to be the next Guyana Football Federation President.
It is any body’s guess whether the candidates are equipped with the required qualities, because none have ever held a position as demanding as GFF president.
With a number of players from the successful Golden Jaguars withdrawing their services and the GFF in deep debt, the next president would be tasked with the onerous responsibility of building Guyana’s football from the rock bottom status it is mired presently.
Aubrey “ Shanghai” Major comes closest to fulfilling those requirements having helped build an organization that became the most successful sports company in Guyana spanning 23 years as Kashif and Shanghai has become.
The next popular candidate Christopher Matthias, has acquired more baggage than accomplishments in his roles in the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) while Alfred King and Ivan Persaud are unknown quantities.
However, in “Shanghai’s” case he has faced criticism on conflict of interest issues based on his roles in the GFF and Kashif and Shanghai over the years.
So far he has generated more endorsements than the others, is a good organizer of events, has proven he can sell a product given K&S’s accomplishments, has developed meaningful contacts in and out of Guyana along the way, and has been enjoying a comfortable life from then to now through the success of his company.
Also lots of national players like him but “Shanghai” has to clear the air on matters that could derail the ambitions of anyone seeking public office in other countries.
For one thing he must state clearly whether Kashif and Shanghai was contracted by the GFF to organize Guyana’s World Cup campaign. He was attacked by Kaieteur News’ Rawle Welch on the issue and responded with a vague denial.
The football public though, wants a clear no or yes answer.
If “Shanghai’s” organization was contracted to run the campaign by the GFF, the value of the contract is unimportant in this context, but it would clear the air about the sore issue in some people’s minds about the money supposedly earned from the selling of the home game rights for the Mexico game that was shifted to Houston, Texas from Guyana.
If Kashif and Shanghai earned 50 percent or 10 percent of the proceeds from the transaction, the blame should be directed to the GFF, not Major. It was the responsibility of GFF Acting President Frankie Wilson and his executive not to contract a company whose co-owner happened to be the GFF’s organizing secretary, to avoid conflict of interest or otherwise ask that official to resign before agreeing to award K&S.
So if Kashif and Shanghai ended up with the bulk of the money from the deal, the blame should be directed to Wilson and his GFF.
So a simple yes or no on the issue would explain whether “Shanghai’s” very hard work in acquiring private sector financial assistance for the team as captain Stephen Nurse related, was for K&S’s benefit foremost or for the GFF in Major’s capacity as organizing secretary.
Major was also accused by a letter writer as playing the public for a sham by stating his resignation from his Kashif and Shanghai company to campaign for the GFF presidency. Very likely Major could still benefit from K&S even if he is not officially a co-owner. Therefore he will have to state categorically that as GFF president he would be working first and foremost in Guyana’s football interest rather than any other including Kashif and Shanghai.
Unlike Klass, whose almost every action was not in football’s best interest, Major has not been all for himself and Kashif and Shanghai. He has helped many local players better their lives by securing semi professional contracts in Trinidad and Tobago. And he was once heard stating several years ago that “One cannot have the bread all for himself, he must share it around”, meaning that he is not all for himself with regard to football benefits.
“Shanghai” could also have ambitions of becoming the Jack Warner equivalent of Guyana’s football. Warner has been accused of using his position in Trinidad and Tobago’s Football Association and subsequently the World Football Association (FIFA) to build personal wealth, but he gave back tremendously to the sport there.
Without Warner, Trinidad and Tobago might never have qualified for its first World Cup finals in 2006. He personally paid the salaries of the national team’s coaches during that period, influenced the Government to build five new stadia and helped many players secure professional contracts in Europe, including the country’s most celebrated player Dwight Yorke, who became a marquee player for the world’s most celebrated club Manchester United.
So “Shanghai” needs to have his priorities right and make it clear to the voters, despite potentially being the best equipped of the candidates.
As a former GFA President, Matthias has no success story to tell, and has not defended accusations of financial misdeed. Also the question remains, can he bring money to the sport? The same goes for King and Persaud despite being touted as men of character. Do they have the wherewithal and contacts to boost the GFF’s finances?
The bottom line is football and all sports disciplines need money first and foremost for success.
The Golden Jaguars’ World Cup campaign crumbled as the GFF exhausted its resources, as de-motivated players either withdrew or played below par in the final stages, complaining among other things, of not being paid.
So as the days draw closer to the Friday’s election, there are “More questions than answers.”
Johnny Nash’s hit song of the 1970s seems pertinent now, 41 years later.