Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central James Paul is demanding an end to the “recklessness” and gun violence associated with football.
In the wake of a shooting Wednesday night during a football match in his constituency, an upset Paul today summoned the media to a briefing to express his disgust at the level of disorder at such events.
The Government backbencher said the shooting, which left two players injured, was inexcusable, and he called on the public not to accept or encourage violence at matches.
“Football happens to attract young men, and some young men from economically [depressed] areas. But it does not mean that because it attracts those . . . that they cannot give their best in terms of behaviour; and we should not take it as something that is ordinary to see that [violent] behaviour of them,” Paul said.
“We cannot condone the behaviour of recklessness,” he stressed.
Gunfire erupted at about 8:30 Wednesday night on the playing field at Belfield, St Michael during a practice match between Belfield Football Club and Weymouth Whales Football Club, leaving 35-year-old Jason White of Fairview, Christ Church suffering two gunshot wounds to his left foot and 16-year-old Keymar Holligan of Eden Lodge, St Michael with a bullet wound to his left foot.
White and Holligan, who are members of the Belfield team, were playing in the match when a fight broke out between White and a player from Weymouth Whales, according to police.
Lawmen said during the altercation, two male supporters of the opposing team allegedly ran onto the field and opened fire, resulting in the injuries to White and Holligan.
Speaking at the Belfield playing field in the heart of his constituency, Paul called on footballers to resist any temptation to incite violence among their supporters.
“We need to ensure that our players . . . have a responsibility to ensure that they don’t do things that would incite the fans on the sidelines, and at the same time the persons who are attending these events should not think it is fair game to go out there and do these things.
“You cannot have a situation where spectators begin to get involved in terms of the conflicts on the field between players, because unfortunately, all that can happen is you will get more injuries . . . and what we need is a greater sense of responsibility, a greater sense of discipline among those people who participate in the sports and those who come to the sport.”
The parliamentarians also said the time had come for the Barbados Football Association (BFA) to introduce special guidelines for players and spectators.
“Maybe the BFA needs to say that these are the things that you need to look out for, we have a code of practice that clubs can actually refer to. It is not something clubs should reject because at the end of day we want to know that sports in this country is conducted within a certain environment. If we can find the guidelines to ensure that environment persist, why not?”