If private promoters of football have their own way then a parallel federation answerable to no one is imminent

Dear Editor,

Stabroek News in my humble opinion remains the better of the two major independent dailies. Since apart from its balanced reporting politically, superior editorials with intellectual content, there are the weekly columnists Dr Ian McDonald, Ralph Ramkarran, Dr Henry Jeffrey, Indranie Deolall, AA Fenty and Mosa Telford, who all contribute meaningfully with various topics for public edification. This is not to forget too the contributions of Anand Goolsarran, Christopher Ram, Dr Clive Thomas, and Dave Martins. However, an editorial captioned ‘Street warriors’ published in SN on December 20, 2017, while offering some meaningful insights into “administrative inefficiencies, poor marketability, inherent and escalating debt(s)” in relation to local football, nevertheless, failed to comprehend the statutes that govern the sport, which is the world’s largest spectator sport. The level of any sport is normally determined by the level of administration in place, which is relevant to the ongoing issue of regularizing all formats of football.

Surely, if for some strange reason this can’t be addressed, then private promoters in tandem with corporate sponsorship could undermine the competent authority of the sport. With the GFF at the helm as the governing body, but private promoters having their own way, then the creation of a parallel federation, answerable to no one would be imminent. Would Stabroek News be supportive of this? Would they be supportive of inadequate non-police security; the sale of alcoholic beverages after 2:00 hrs and 5-a-side football still being played at a government controlled facility? What about school-age children who may be playing at this hour? Would this be for the love of the game, or for the love of money? Editor, there was a time when former journalists were very critical of the Kashif and Shanghai year-end tournament. But now the same brothers are private promoters. Isn’t this hypocrisy?

Maybe, my humble suggestion should be entertained. From 2018, all registration forms for clubs, with players’ particulars included must have a clause affixed, consisting of a no objection certificate for participation in 5-a-side/street football, with the basic understanding that when this occurs, national and club representation ceases. Once again, is it fair for the GFF, via associations and clubs through the instrumentality of FIFA and CONCACAF, to invest in developing players and officials for the benefit of private promoters? What a sad day this would be, moreso, when journalists in tandem with private promoters give extensive coverage of such activities, photo(s) included, at the expense of organised football. Is any care and consideration being given to other corporate sponsors? Of course the very sports writers ‒ definitely not sports journalists ‒ are assured before the first ball is kicked of their financial remuneration. Does Stabroek News Sports Department, have any of these sports writers? Are the core values of sports journalism being maintained in high esteem in the reports that the publication daily prints?

Finally, within every constitution of FIFA’s affiliates worldwide, which at the last count was 212, there is a clause relating to ‘Aims and Objectives’ that entails regularising football. As a consequence to simply turn a blind eye to this can have a devastating impact on the sport in any country, and the GFF will have to toe the line or face being sanctioned. Neverthe-less, I’m not in agreement with describing street football as the “poor man’s game”. Since if this were so, prize money would never be in the vicinity of $500,000. Editor, since you may not be aware of the budgetary framework, the other expenditure of street football consists of referees’ fees; preparation of playing area; purchase of balls, trophies and medals; advertising; laundering; beverages (water); goals; mobile lavatories and sound systems. It must be noted that I have not included medical personnel/physiotherapist, workers and construction of movable walls and transportation. At the end of the day the costs are all inclusive.

So, in actuality would sponsorship take care of all the afore-mentioned? Definitely not! But bar sales 3 nights a week, for a 2-3 week period would entail some degree of negotiation for the private promoters/promotional group to earn a percentage from the net bar sales, since no private promoter would volunteer their services for free, moreso in the absence of gate receipts. With the GFF having to pay levy fees on every international match Guyana hosts and plays either to FIFA, CONCACAF or CFU, then it’s within the right of the GFF to apply the same measure locally as was done previously, either in the form of a percentage or a fixed sum. Is there something wrong with this development that was recommended by an affiliate, which came by way of a motion? In one instance the K&S organisation levy fees were $850,000. All in all sport is no longer sport, but rather a business that must make dollars and ‘sense’, and definitely not cents. Debt liquidation/ servicing and prudent management are all factors to be taken into serious consideration.

In relation to the Elite League’s $30 M debt, hard-headedness is the main cause of this, involving poor fixtures compilation and marketing. Let street football be played by unaffiliated and unregistered players, representing where they live only, and devoid of any sanction by a disciplinary committee.

Yours faithfully,

Lester Sealey

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