Urling’s criticism of GFF unconscionable

Dear Editor,

It is unconscionable to think that Mr Urling, whose tenure resulted in FIFA blocking funds to Guyana’s football programme subsequently, is criticising the GFF Executive and Secretariat.  To secure conditional funding to basic operational requirements, FIFA requested further investigations into improprieties and implementation of new regulatory measures and safeguards.

Since Mr Urling chaired the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Normalisation Committee (NC), he has become an overnight expert and enthusiast for football administration.

Furthermore, since the democratically elected new GFF Executive took office in 2015, Mr Urling, who was once tasked with stabilizing local football, has been unrelenting and interestingly misled, in his public commentary and tacit private actions to destabilize the GFF Executive and Secretariat, by throwing some serious shade.  This began in 2016 when Team Unity, comprised of persons such as Odinga Lumumba – Alpha United; Javid Ali – Slingerz FC; Fizail Khan ‒ GFC; and Robie Rambarran – Pele, was defeated by Team Integrity at the November 2015 GFF elections.  This despite Mr Urling’s last minute attempt to institute a stipulation requiring police clearances for all candidates contesting the election.  Mr Urling also waived membership conditions for clubs affiliated with the Georgetown Football Association (GFA), paving the way for some clubs not in good financial and management standing with the GFA, to vote, presumably for the current GFA President, Mr Clifton Hicken.  Mr Urling, along with members of the Kashif and Shanghai team and Mr Lumumba, were all present at the GFA’s caucus as clubs ‘voted’ raising questions questions about the integrity of the exercise.

Fast track to January 2017, when Mr Urling under the pretence of intervening in the best interest of football in Guyana, sought to undermine the authority of the GFF Executive, by writing directly to CONCACAF’s President, notifying him of the Elite League impasse between the executive and the aforementioned clubs, and advising him of the required recourse.  This was met with strong condemnation from CONCACAF and FIFA, both of which documented and publicly endorsed their support of the GFF Executive’s constitutional authority to expand the Elite League and relegate the four teams that essentially forfeited their matches by electing to not participate.  Still not satisfied, Mr Urling is on record as advising the four clubs that the GFF constitution and Guyana’s laws are on their side; court action, currently pending was ultimately initiated by Alpha United and Slingerz FC, which represents a flagrant breach of the GFF constitution.  Unfortunately, players’ experiences and incomes have been sacrificed due to the actions of Mr Urling and a few club and association executives.  One would imagine, that the errant actions of the clubs’ leaders and dormant GFA during Mr Hicken’s tenure, would attract the ire of Mr Urling since he has football’s best interest at heart. I suppose however that he, just as the ‘leaders’ hoping their politically contrived instability results in majority representation in the GFF Congress and access to resources, power and privileges, are acting in concert.

In September 2017, after returning to Guyana, having completed studies in Sports Management, Mr Urling took to the local press to once more express dissatisfaction with the tenure of the GFF Executive, specifically progress made on the FIFA Forward Project and ongoing Elite League impasse.  In a prior September 5, 2017 Guyana Chronicle piece captioned, ‘Urling disappointed in state of FIFA Goal Project, two years after acquiring land,’ he opined that the biggest achievement of the NC was its acquisition of prime real estate for a new GFF Secretariat, training complex and modern football only stadium.  The thirty year lease for land aback of Providence he spoke of, and that he supposedly acquired, was deemed invalid by the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council and the Government of Guyana after lawyers reviewed the process by which it was effected.  A number of Mr Urling’s views have been expressed by Mr Rawle Toney of the Guyana Chronicle, who was contracted as the NC’s Sponsorship and Communications Officer during Mr Urling’s tenure as NC Chairman.

In another September 2017 article, this time in the Kaieteur News, captioned, ‘Kaieteur News raps former NC Chairman – Clinton Urling’, he states,“I have no intention to run for any office of the GFF. However, I do remain committed to seeing the development of the sport of football in Guyana. If I’m asked to serve in any capacity, and once availability permits, I would acquiesce to do so.”  In two years, Mr Urling has found nothing positive to say about football in Guyana, its Executive and Secretariat.  This despite the GFF’s new leadership and the Secretariat among others being praised by none other than FIFA’s President, CONCACAF’s President and FIFA’s General Secretary for their successes, some of which are: (1) U-15 boys winning Guyana first ever regional youth tournament; (2) securing two, five-year youth development football contracts; (3) furthest ever a Guyanese team advanced in the Caribbean Football Union tournament; (4) Women’s Football Development League launched; (4) first ever Women’s Football Technical Officer employed; (5) the commencement of construction for a modern multi-purpose football stadium at Providence; (6) the success of the grassroots football programme; (7) expansion of football played in the hinterland; (7) the wildly popular nation-wide Scotia Bank sponsored Academy Training Centres; (8) new GFF strategic plan; (9) establishment of Guyana’s first ever under-13 male team; and (10) fulfilment of regulations set out by FIFA for the management of the GFF finances.

These are some, but there are numerous other successes that our local footballers and all of Guyana must be aware and proud of; Guyana’s football legacy must be built on success after success from the bottom up.  Political greed, vested interest, misguided rhetoric and schemes intended to destabilize and undermine Guyana’s football development programme can never be in the best interest of Guyanese football and footballers. Awarding huge contracts to private promoters and assuring them of the re-establishment of the K&S yearend tournament, is in fact the cornerstone of Mr Urling’s vision for football development.

The GFF must undertake a forensic audit of the NC’s tenure. FIFA must also take decisive action to remove elements of the sport which have historically and are currently attempting to ruin it in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Archer

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