by Morissa Lindsay
Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Randy Harris, says the regional governing body was working hard to restore its credibility and overcome the controversy which had hurt its image in recent times.
Only last September, former CFU head, Antiguan Gordon Derrick, was banned for six years by football’s world governing body, FIFA, after being found guilty of bribery and conflict of interest charges.
He was also slapped with a £23 000 fine.
Harris, who took over in the wake of Derrick’s demise, said both CFU and continental governing body, CONCACAF – also hit by scandal in recent years – were making large strides in repairing their image.
“CONCACAF has gone through a very trying time, our integrity as been compromised as a federation and in an effort to change the way the world looks at CONCACAF, we are working towards ensuring that their credibility would be what it once was,” Harris told Barbados TODAY in an interview.
“They have put certain new regulations in place to prevent incidences that happened prior to 2015 from reoccurring and I think they are on good track to lead football in this confederation because they even brought in experts, who are well versed in the field of public relations.
“Aside from CONCACAF, what we have done at CFU is have some football experts who know the Caribbean well and who are from the Caribbean to work on a strategic plan for the CFU.
“Obviously if we have a strategic plan then everybody is on board with the plan and with relevant support, we would make sure that we are conducting our duty for regional football that would lift the standard of football in the Caribbean.”
CFU oversees 31 Caribbean associations and are a subset of CONCACAF, which also embraces governance for the likes of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central American nations.
At the moment, Harris said CFU sides were lagging behind the bigger nations, largely because the pace of development.
“We are competing in CONCACAF with the likes of Mexico, Costa Rica, the United States of America, Panama and Honduras and basically the gap is too wide at this time,” he argued.
“And the gap is wide not because of talent or skills because individually we can compete, but in terms of the knowledge of the game and the development of game, those countries are well ahead.
“They take the game more seriously and they have professional leagues which we don’t have and that is another reason I have high praises for our regional players who are amateurs competing against professionals and we do fairly well.”
In terms of development, Harris, who is also president of the Barbados Football Association, revealed that the CFU will organise a women’s and Under-14 boys tournament in the summer of 2018.
He said plans were currently being streamlised and the finishing touches would be added shortly when the CFU board met.
“I would say now that the Under-14 tournament would have to be somewhere between June and the end of August and the ladies tournament will probably be after that. But the upcoming meeting is to discuss preparation for these two upcoming tournaments,” he said.
Harris also praised the financial health of the CFU, stressing it was the intention of the body to continue on the right track economically.
“We just had a special congress which audited financial statement of the CFU was vetted and we seem to be doing pretty good at this time,” the veteran administrator noted.