The recently concluded two-day Soccerex Americas Forum provided the opportunity for government officials, the private sectors and other sporting organizations to be sensitized on the impact football has as a sport, says general secretary of the Barbados Football Association, Joyce Stewart.
“Soccerex provided a visual impact of how powerful the game is. It indicated clearly the power football has on the business world and the development of people, whether it is in sports or any other aspect of their life,” Stewart said.
During the two-day forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, several discussions were held on various aspects of the sport by a number of key players in local, regional and international football.
Among them were Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink formerly of Chelsea, John Barnes the former England international, Ossie Ardiles member of Argentina’s World Cup winners of 1978 and Bryan Robson, former Manchester United and England international. In addition there were several representatives from sports marketing agencies and leading members of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union along with several international and regional journalists.
In the final sesson of the Forum which was entitled Legends In Discussion, Robson, Barnes and Ardiles gave their thoughts on the game. During that discussion Robson called for a cap on the number of foreign players in the English Premier League.
“I know this is a call that will go unanswered but I think the time has come to place a cap on the number of foreign players playing in the Premier League if England is to become a powerhouse in world football. Our league might be strong but our team is unable to make it into the quarter- finals of the World Cup,” Robson said.
Barnes while not disagreeing with Robson said that football fans in England supported their clubs rather than the national team.
“Football fans support their club rather than the national team. Liverpool fans want Steven Gerrard to score goals for them. So if he is tired and have to miss a couple of matches for the national team they do not mind as long as he is fit and able to play for his club,”, Barnes said.
During the discussion Ardiles said that while he always longed for a South American team to win the World Cup, he had to admit that Europe was the powerhouse of world football and seemed set to remain so for a long time.