Former head of the football Normalization Committee (NC), Clinton Urling, says that the recently concluded inquiry into the sexual harassment of female referees is a reminder of the issues affecting the football landscape, and that a zero tolerance policy must be endorsed against offenders.
In an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport, Urling said, “Football in Guyana is still plagued by many challenges and the final report of the COI (Commission of Inquiry) only serves as a reminder that there is much to be done to clean up the sport and to institute changes at all levels so as to prevent actions from individuals that are detrimental to the sport.”
According to Urling, “My overall view is that the GFF (Guyana Football Federation) should have a zero tolerance policy against offenders where the evidence is clear that they committed an egregious act. And the sanctions meted out should be appropriate to offence committed. This, in my view, would send the right message to the entire fraternity that that sort of behaviour is not condoned.”
Subsequent to the submission of the final report by the five-member female panel on November 23rd, it was recommended that the GFF remove Head of Referees Department Stanley Lancaster and Referee Assessor Roy MacArthur from their respective posts.
This was revealed by a source close to the COI. According to the source, “The primary recommendation is the removal of GFF Head of Referees Department Stanley Lancaster and Referee Assessor Roy MacArthur. Many of the testimonies and stories received by the committee did not sound scripted or rehearsed, they felt genuine. The recommendations for their removal is based on the belief and credibility that incidents occurred. Although there was no physical evidence, many of the individuals that testified had different experiences and stories.”
Following a preliminary executive committee meeting on December 1st to analyze the findings, GFF President Wayne Forde disclosed that a decision will be made soon on the findings.
The inquiry, which commenced in March 2018, was necessitated following allegations of sexual harassment by several female referees on senior members of the Referees fraternity.
Urling added, “I have not seen the final report of the COI and would refrain from commenting on any specifics. During the NC tenure, no allegations of sexual harassment was brought to my attention and if it were, we would have dealt with it condignly.”
“[It’s] still very early since the report has been completed and I would give the GFF executives the benefit that they are planning to take a necessary course of action depending on the findings of the COI”, he added.
The aforementioned duo are among a group of three federation officials that have been investigated for their overall conduct.
GFF Executive Member Keith O’Jeer, who also holds the portfolio of Berbice Football Association (BFA) President, was suspended by the federation for alleged inappropriate conduct during the month of April 2018.
Details surrounding what led to O’Jeer’s suspension have not been revealed by the federation to date. Presently, the GFF continues to remain silent on the investigation into his case.