GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, CMC- CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb believes the recently held CONCACAF Sports Summit could set the tone for a new relationship between football and government authorities, and lead to a new era of development in the region.
Speaking to the media on the high level conference, Webb said it was important to create new synergies in the region, and said the Summit was an ideal opportunity to reignite this crucial process.
“As I have travelled throughout the region I recognised there was a disconnect between the government authorities and that of the sporting authorities and that disconnect is very evident when you see of course the lack of infrastructure throughout the region,” said Webb, speaking alongside Sepp Blatter, president of football’s world governing body, FIFA. “But when you look you see FIFA is spending US$2 billion on development, 260 million dollars in our region, and 800 million dollars in this financial cycle. And it seems that in many cases instead of being progressive, sometimes our football has regressed.”
He continued: “So we wanted to bring together these authorities and sit down, and see how we can build bridges of understanding and collaboration, how we can establish dialogue because they must be our partners.
“If FIFA is investing million and millions into our region, [into] we as a people, [into] we as a Diaspora through the Caribbean and extended CONCACAF confederation, governments must do its role also they must provide the infrastructure to allow us to play.”
The Summit was labelled “Transformation Through Partnership”, and brought together a number of key stakeholders for one day, to discuss issues varying from policy, finance, health and sponsorship.
Dignitaries included Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin and Montserrat’s Premier Reuben Meade, along with FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, CONCACAF General Secretary Enrique Sanz and Blatter.
Caribbean Football Union head Gordon Derrick and various heads of CONCACAF member associations, Sports Ministers and other government officials from several countries, were also in attendance.
Webb, who took over the helm of CONCACAF last year, said one of his organisation’s major aims was ensuring equitable development for the members of the confederation.
“In the Caribbean throughout our history we have hosted two World Championships [and] both have been in Trinidad. Do we have the necessary infrastructure in any other territory to host another one? Unfortunately I don’t think so,” he stressed.
“So we want to establish strategic plans and partner with governments, on how we can create long term infrastructure, and of course strategies that we believe will better foster development for football in the future.”
Blatter praised the CONCACAF initiative, noting that the confederation was a crucial one within FIFA.
“I have to tell you one thing about this region called CONCACAF, you couldn’t have a better region in our world of football … where you have all the opposites that exist. You have the richest and you have the poorest, you have the biggest and you have the smallest,” Blatter pointed out.
“You have everything here. You have a melange of cultures, you have a melange of races and it looks so good and I am amazed at the development which has been made especially in the Caribbean with all these small islands and the performances that you have realised in past year.”
CONCACAF is the continental governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean.