Some of us are forgetful about what happened in football

Dear Editor,

 

As I read the letter supposedly for Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, President of FIFA on Guyana’s football, written by Mr Jim Parks and other concerned football enthusiasts on May 24, I was left with the opinion that it could have been structured better having been written by several persons. More direct and conclusive positions, supported by a preponderance of facts and evidence would have made it more convincing in attracting the attention of the FIFA boss.

This missive is evidence of how forgetful some of us Guyanese are. The authors made a number of unsubstantiated claims but one which stood out was that in Mr Klass’s time there was “some” level of “inefficiency” but “accountability” was the watchword. Isn’t that an astonishing declaration?

On December 18, 2012 ‘The Home of Caribbean Football’ documented the Guyana national team’s astonishing attack on its own federation, in which they called for better governance and a fresh set of ideas. The national team players had gone on strike and rebelled against their own country (Guyana). In their allegations they described the General Secretary and his deputy in very unflattering terms, and insisted that these men were “responsible for the stagnation of the game in Guyana.”

The players posited: “As players who have made tremendous sacrifices to represent Guyana, we feel that the time has come for ‘changes’ in the executive of the Guyana Football Federation.”

They also alluded to the two persons they assumed were responsible for the growth of the game in Guyana being stunted. They alleged that “They [the officials they named] are totally disconnected from the modern game and the administrative needs of modern football… not to mention the huge sums of money they receive for being incompetent.”

National team player Vurlon Mills had spoken out and said he no longer wanted to represent the side under the current leadership of the GFF. (Note, during Klass’s time) Mills had complained about the lack of respect shown by the federation for the players.

He wrote that “Footballers of the then national programme and even players before us had complained about the handling of affairs from the federation and how they continue to treat us with no respect and no loyalty.”

He was not the only one to speak his mind. Walter Moore, a veteran national team player having played for his country for 15 years, said, “I had enough of the current figureheads of the Guyana Football Federation who have taken football in Guyana nowhere for a number of years.”

He also linked his desire not to represent his country under the current circumstances to Klass, Adonis and Rutherford, ruing their lack of ambition: “Colin Klass was president of the GFF for over 20 years; Adonis and Rutherford were employed under the Klass era and this lack of vision and progression needs change.”

Editor, I am compelled to say that this little reminder of our history was not just “some level of inefficiency” as was adumbrated by the authors of that missive.

These revelations by the very players are profound and provided the disturbing reality of what was experienced by the ambassadors of the game and spoke to what was going on in Guyana’s football for a number of years.

As for the statement in the letter that in Klass’s time “accountability” was the watchword, this was very bold and profound, but history has proven otherwise.

There was the conflict leading up to Guyana’s World Cup qualifier with Mexico in October which had to be played at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium for reasons unknown to most.   It was however alleged that “Guyana appealed to FIFA citing a conflict [whatever that was] with the originally announced venue of the Guyana National Stadium in Providence.

It was revealed by Dynamo on its website that it would host the match and the Mexican Football Federation confirmed the venue change.”

There was apparently “a signed agreement which was made prior to the home game, against Mexico, in Texas with four members of the then governing body including acting president Frankie Wilson.

“The players were not consulted regarding the change of location, nor informed why the fixture was changed and were not provided any financial benefit from the sale of the fixture.” With all the talk of Guyana’s advancement and its then rating in the world, it is evident that the best interests of Guyana and its players were not foremost on the agenda of the then GFF leadership.

It was also stated that “With foresight, efficiency, effort, vision and desire, Guyana could have been more than prepared to host Mexico in a manner that would have been fruitful to the Guyanese public, the economy, the federation, and most importantly provide the Golden Jaguars with a golden opportunity to not only play on home soil but to do so with the entire country supporting them.”

Guyana went on to lose the match 5-0. Most Guyanese, members of the national team and renowned football analysts maintained that the outcome for Guyana if the game had been played on home soil would have certainly been different.

The finances received from that Guyana-Mexico deal are still unknown. Numerous players are still owed monies and it became so bad during those qualifiers, that some players who got injured were forced to pay their medical bills out of their own pockets.

Subsequent to the aforementioned, Mr Adonis, General Secretary of the federation, was banned from football for 30 days by FIFA, following allegations about his conduct at the now infamous CFU meeting in Trinidad a year and several months ago. Colin Klass, the then GFF president, was also served with a 26-month ban from the game by FIFA for his alleged involvement in bribery.

The utterances of accountability as the watchword in “Klass’s time” by the authors is a clear demonstration of non-accountability in the use of words.

Why can’t we and all others who preach how much they love this game, just allow good sense and the developmental efforts thus far prevail without unnecessary hindrances?   Hasn’t Guyana football suffered enough over the past two decades?

 

Yours faithfully,
Jermaine Figueira

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