The Golden Jaguar internationals refused to play their final practice match on their Brazilian Tour against Bangu Atletico in protest of unpaid stipends by the Guyana Football Federation [GFF].
This was confirmed by GFF President Wayne Forde yesterday during a press conference held at the entity’s Campbellville headquarters.
The team was scheduled to contest their fourth and final fixture of the two-week tour of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, following a record of two losses and a draw against state teams
. The maiden trek formed part of the GFF’s preparation for the CONCACAF Nation’s League, which the local side commences on September 6th against Barbados at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora.
A visibly disappointed Forde revealed that the team, which departed local shores on August 12th, was paid 50 percent of their daily stipend for the two-week sojourn.
He revealed that each player saw an increase in their stipend from US$40 to US$50, which was an initiative of the current administration. This translated to each player receiving allegedly US$350 prior to departure to the South American giant.
“The players received 50% of the stipend and the plan was to wire the balance but then we realized that that was more easily said than done. The attempts to do it through Western Union also proved difficult because we could’ve only sent $3000 at a time, so by the time the players became agitated over this we realised was the only option was to have their wives and girlfriends collect their funds at the federation.”
The GFF boss did not reveal if the attempted Western Union transactions occurred in the final days leading to the protests, or if warnings of possible protest action by the players were known before.
Forde stated that decision of the players to strike was disappointing. “It’s very unfortunate because this whole camp was our way, the executive committee, of giving the local players an opportunity for what has been a cry within the football fraternity for many years, that is, that we putting together a national team that doesn’t reflect the local talent that we have been developing.”
He admitted that while the players have the right to protest against possible injustices, he was disappointed that, “the leadership on the ground was unable to communicate this really about you (the players), that is the federation investing a huge amount of resources to give you a chance to prove to the new coaching body that you have what it takes to vie for those coveted position to represent your country in four very important games.”
Forde was adamant that the protest action does not and should not reflect poorly on the GFF, because the historic tour which features a highly qualified management staff, illustrates the federation’s willingness to invest in the sport to achieve success at the international level.
He added that the federation was awaiting a complete report following an investigation into the episode, as the respective stakeholders inclusive of the public needed a thorough understanding and account of what led to the episode. Forde stated that corrective measures will be put in place to thwart any reoccurrence.