WEAK LEADERSHIP has left Caribbean football divided and at the mercy of world powers.
“If we had a strong Caribbean, the injustice which was done to Trinidad and Tobago football by FIFA would never have taken place,” stated Austin Jack Warner, the former Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president.
“You would never hear a CFU of old say TTFA should accept FIFA’s dictates,” Warner vented. “Never!!”
Warner’s comments came in an in-depth interview with moderator Andre Baptiste on i95.5FM Sports Talk programme.
Warner was the most powerful-ever CFU president. He was at its helm for 21 years, leading to him further assuming more powerful positions as president of the CONCACAF region and also a vice-president of FIFA—the governing body for world football, remaining in that post until 2011, when resigning all his roles amid a football corruption scandal.
In a scathing rebuke of the current CFU leadership, Warner said the organisation which he formerly ruled is now a shadow of its former self. “Randy Harris has never been a leader,” Warner said of the current CFU boss.
Warner insisted that unity had always been the greatest strength of the small Caribbean islands. Under Harris, Warner feels the CFU is divided and greatly weakened.
In a previous interview on Baptiste’s programme, Harris had declared that CFU was not dead, but that its members had to abide by the dictates of world football’s governing body from time to time, because FIFA was the only entity funding most of the small Caribbean countries.
“All of us are answerable to FIFA and from time to time, all of us are in situations that have to be regularised,” Harris had said.
“FIFA is very serious about how they operate in the Caribbean; if they are giving you these annual sums of monies, you have to be accountable. It happens to all of us, there are always questions being asked,” Harris had further asserted.
To Warner, Harris’ explanations were signs of great weakness. “We voted as a block. You have the strength of your vote,” Warner noted, adding, “I became strong in FIFA because I controlled 35 of 35 votes.”
Warner felt that under its current administration, CFU is non-functional. “Have you ever heard anything about a CFU congress? What about the CFU referees? Which games have they taken part in at the World Cup level or CONCACAF level? What about the CFU Youth Programmes? What about the CFU coaching courses?”
The Congress, Warner was referencing, has been suspended. On March 30, CFU general secretary, Trinidadian Camara David, issued a release announcing the suspension of the 2020 CFU Congress, which was scheduled for May 7, owing to the evolving situation with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All these things have been forgotten. It is no longer a CFU,” Warner continued. “CFU is now dead in the water... thanks to Harris, thanks to CONCACAF, thanks to FIFA and, of course, their colleague in Jamaica. It is the worst period in Caribbean football history,” he added.