The Elite League merry-go-round continues

”Show me your company and I will tell you who you are”, is an idiom often applied to figure out a person’s affiliation and in some cases political inclination. In Guyana, politics and sports have merged to the point where they can be viewed as relatives in a dysfunctional family.

sportscopeThis domestic household is the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), an  institution akin to a government, and its populace, in this instance, the Elite League teams.

Many thought that the announcement of the November 13th season kick-off signalled the end of the controversies surrounding the tournament, but the situation continues to evolve with every passing day like a soap opera.

The latest dispute surrounds the Elite League Champions Slingerz FC allegedly opting not to participate in the upcoming season, due to the GFF’s supposedly high handed approach on matters related to the tourney.

Sounding like a scratched vinyl record, the main issue revolves around the federation’s decision to increase the membership to 10 teams without consulting the original eight teams. The teams invited to join the fray are Topp XX of Linden and Victoria Kings of the East Coast of Demerara.

Four of the eight clubs, [the others being Georgetown Football Club, Pele and Alpha United] currently argue that this move infringes on the original contract signed with the Normalization Committee (NC).

The clubs state that relegation and promotion shall not occur until the end of the second season under the contract, and that increasing the membership is an act of promotion. They further contend that the approach of the GFF is in violation of the entity’s constitution.

However, for all the rhetoric being spewed, one must ask, have the clubs produced the signed contract with the NC, or any documentation to give their present position credibility? Let’s be fair, the GFF should have consulted with the clubs their impending decisions out of good faith, but was this constitutionally required?

Can the four teams show where the GFF has infringed its constitution? It is clear that only the eight Elite League teams can vote at any congress presently. The GFF is aware of this fact, and would have sought legal advice from CONCACAF on its position before seeking to expand.

As it stands, CONCACAF and possibly FIFA, have probably greenlighted the move which is why the GFF can maintain its stance. If this is the case, are the four Elite League clubs saying the decision of the powers that be is wrong, despite being involved in the commissioning of the said event?

What is the next move for the clubs if the GFF provides documentation from the governing bodies to support its decision? Would it not be viewed as politically motivated, if a decision is taken by the aggrieved clubs against the best interests of the sport, irrespective of the evidence presented?

Will the other teams follow the path of Slingerz in spite of CONCACAF or FIFA’s ruling? This possibility would be disastrous, with the players [the most important stakeholders] being the ones affected, and possibly facing sanctions due to decisions that were not of their own making?

In any case, the decision to increase the event’s complement should be done for sporting reasons and not political schemas. Was the increase in the number of teams a way to expand the scope of the event, as was hinted at by a representative of Stag Beer at press conferences, according to sources?

One must now ask, if the title sponsor had the foresight to envision the need for possible expansion, is the increase really the issue, or simply put, are the teams which were selected the real problem? If this is the case, then the four teams have their own ‘political’ agendas.

Ironically, members of the disgruntled clubs were affiliated to the Nigel Hughes led Team Unity slate which lost to Wayne Forde’s Team Integrity in the battle for GFF supremacy. One would hate to think that this is ‘politically motivated’.

Teams have to possess an Elite League license to be eligible to participate in the League, which both Topp XX and Victoria Kings are holders of. The only other team that owns a license, and could have a complaint with their non-selection is Riddim Squad.

The competing teams are aware of this fact, and as such, closer examination gives credence to the thought, that the increase is not the real bone of contention. For starters, no teams are being relegated, despite relegation and promotion being practically mandatory, unless a special exemption has been granted according to FIFA statutes. The NC is yet to declare if they received a special exemption to implement such a rule at the event’s genesis, as they have remained ‘mum’ on this subject, giving the impression that they were not properly guided in this area.

This effectively means that GFC and Monedderlust would have been demoted under normal circumstances. Would the Bourda based team’s position still be the same if they had been relegated? At this very moment, both teams are recipients of a lifeline instead of facing the embarrassment of relegation.

There will be less games this season owing to the new structure, in spite of the increase in the number of teams, so an argument of player fatigue is a non-topic. At this moment, the key concern is when the GFF will pay the outstanding match fees of $28,000, still owing to every player.

In the big picture, this current scenario, irrespective of who is right or wrong, exemplifies all that is wrong with sports in Guyana. Common sense and compromise often takes a backseat to deception and personal interests.

One can only wonder, if following months of inactivity, will the games ever begin?

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