FIFA election promises far reaching for Caribbean football
More than heartening it is for football in the Caribbean that prospective candidates for FIFA's presidential elections have actually presented themselves at the recent Caribbean Football Union gathering in Antigua to showcase their outlook for further development of the sport on a global scale. The very idea of the hopeful FIFA bigwigs coming here to woo us is a tremendous departure from all that has been consistent with these matters in the past. But then, the FIFA elections carded for 26th February, just around five weeks from now, take on a grimly different picture opposed to the status quo. The ingrained influences normally associated with longstanding power centres in FIFA have suffered a bashing under sanctions enforced by the FIFA Ethics Committee preventing certain key individuals from entering the election race. Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, his heir apparent Mickel Platini and others of the inner sanctum have been black marked for alleged corruption of a far reaching order.
The Jordanian prince, like his rivals, has come forward with the juicy carrot to all the smaller football nations of their individual financial grants being raised from the existing quarter of a million dollars up to one million U.S. dollars per year. FIFA can pay this easily. There are around 200 nations comprising its general body. One million US dollars per year would be $200m (US) out of an income estimated as billions of dollars accruing from the staging of the World Cup every four years. That promise comes with the guarantee that all of FIFA's financial dealings will enter a new vista of complete transparency. One candidate alluded to the need to help the poorer countries out of their entrenched state of under-development – where the rich keep getting richer and the poor retaining their unenviable relative positions in the football world.
World order as we know it will always per force feature "the haves" as against the "have nots", and it will always have to be a matter of how the lesser mortals define themselves and accordingly rationalize their approach to upward mobility. A look at the Caribbean shows, for instance, that Dominica's football strength surpassed that of St. Kitts by a long way in the seventies. However, within a mere two years after beating St. Kitts 8-1 the position was reversed and we have failed so far to get up to an equalization of the relative standards. So then, it is a matter of which country addresses sensibly the business of utilizing its best brains towards moving forward.
All that is implied in the foregoing has, of course, to do with the national standings – the positions at the top of the pyramids of Caribbean football. Yet, no pyramid is without a base, and the base has always to be much, much wider than the top. Dominica ranks near the bottom of world football – an assertion no one would dispute in his right senses, albeit patriotic in the extremist. We cannot elevate the pyramid of our football without paying attention to the base – the grassroots structure of our football.
There is much to be done about our football development both in short and long term. If this is to materialize, we need basic infrastructure. We need essential manpower, and all else that goes with it. I do not intend to enter into details at this point. Only my reiteration of the paramount need to change our mentality about sports in the education scheme of things for the better. An enlightened outlook has been much too long in coming.
Assuming Dominica puts its football house in order – within a foreseeable generational span – we will have done the following, along with all that leads up to them. Football will be appreciably strengthened in our schools and academia, in our distracts, in our national clubs and teams and in our attained regional and world rankings etc, etc. It means that we will have meaningfully established a semi-professional football league and reversed the trend that our media (print, radio, television and other periodicals) regard quality sports as entirely foreign in content. The local television viewer, for instance, must have available to him a local dedicated national sports channel on a regular basis. And its content must be home grown and systematically geared towards consistent progress in development.
From all that is transpiring in the ferment of world football it is easy to see that the following nations, among others, are not really in need of FIFA money for their development: U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and some others in our hemisphere. Principally, it is us the smaller countries who stand in real need of FIFA financial assistance. Actually, our quota of annual assistance should be raised to (US) $2 million per territory.
In such light, if all goes well, we would function as surrogates for producing streams of players for recruitment into regional metropolitan professional football leagues as well as European leagues. It isn't that the idea of a player production mill hasn't been in place. Just that Dominica has, through long and entrenched ineptness, failed to position itself in the mainstream of Caribbean football. Very well then, it is a matter of what we put into and where we direct our efforts that will determine how far and how fast our movement forward may go.
Believe you me; it will take more than the surreptitious use of our national teams positioned as scope for clandestine dealings with certain characters in areas of corruptive behavior to move us forward on the global football scene. When all is played out on 26th February, and the glitter dust settles in wake of the election promises, the real bonus to football will be the extent to which the hoped for prospect of transparency in all football will stand to emerge as fact and not fiction. Current Dominica Football Association administrative bodies don't seem to understand how true football progress must be formulated and engineered. The era of championing the hard eyed, the hardnosed and the callously boldfaced must be abolished post haste. Without this we are as corrupt as the alleged villains the FIFA elections process seeks to dismember and discard.