In addition to four national players suspended for playing unsanctioned out-of-season football tournaments such as the Gully Side and New Orleans competitions, the referees who officiated in those games are now in danger of being penalized as well.
One of those tournaments feeling the pinch is the Henderson Williams City Soccer Classic, which kicked off last December 31. Williams said everything was running along smoothly until the referees were sanctioned, forcing them to desist from officiating any more games for fear of disciplinary action from the Barbados Football Association (BFA) and by extension the referees’ committee.
Williams was speaking during a press conference held this morning at Hilton Hotel, where fellow Democratic Labour Party candidate Rodney Grant, along with former parliamentarian and community activist, Hamilton Lashley, also a member of the City Soccer Classic committee, were in attendance to address the issue of the national players being banned from playing in the upcoming BFA league season scheduled to commence in March.
Those players are national captain and ace striker Mario Harte, Paradise midfielder Mario Williams along with Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme pair of central defender Ricardo Morris and midfielder Renaldo Trim.
Just before the names of those players were revealed, general secretary of the BFA Edwyn Wood last week Thursday during a press briefing explained at that time that a number of players would be disciplined for failing to adhere to the BFA’s rules handed down by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football and by extension world governing body, FIFA.
In addition, a letter was sent to players and officials on January 3 by Wood, notifying them that participation in any out-of-season tournaments not sanctioned by the association was at the players’ own risk and was in breach of Rule seven of the BFA’s rules.
However, Williams sought to give clarity on the situation saying: “On two or three occasions, Mr Lashley went and sat in that organization [BFA] to await a response on the tournament, to date none has been forthcoming. But yet you can hear whispers of the tournament not being sanctioned, letters being written to the referees indicating the same thing to them.”
Williams added: “If you are going to attempt to discipline, then certainly they must be some type of protocol, that if somebody writes to you [as the governing body], the only proper and decent thing to do is to respond.”
A letter was produced dated January 2 and addressed to BFA president Randolph Harris from the organizers of the Henderson Williams City Soccer Classic, seeking permission to run the tournament. This correspondence was sent though acknowledging that the BFA’s cut-off date for sanctioning out-of-season competitions had been since December 15.
That letter requested leniency from the association and while awaiting a response, Lashley explained that three days before the start of the competition, Wood contacted him and said that the tournament would not be sanctioned.
According to Williams, the DLP candidate for the City, sabotage was the only word he could use to express what had occurred and the hurt he felt surrounding the entire situation. But he made it clear the show had to go on.
“Our efforts will not be shortchanged and it will not be sabotaged with or without the support of persons who believe they have a right to dictate. We will continue to do good for the community, we will continue our efforts with what the City development has been doing to uplift the people of the city,” Williams said sternly.
Grant supported Williams’ earlier point that the faces of young footballers should not be splashed across the newspapers as though they were criminals.
“They did not commit any significant crime, these are young men who represent their country and I doubt anybody wrote and told them they are infringing on a law. If they were written I would be surprised. But here it is you splash their faces in the paper like they are four criminals…I think that is wrong,” said Grant, who will be contesting St Michael South East seat in the upcoming general elections on a DLP ticket.
Meanwhile, Lashley noted that the tournament was conceptualized to bring about recognition and build stronger communities across Barbados, some of which have been marginalized and stigmatized for years.
He called for the BFA to review and amend its policies while stating that people continued to trivialize the efforts of community-based organizations that were doing good work.
“Out of season football was playing for decades in Barbadian communities in a very structured and organized way. Barbados football was at the top, at its zenith, with a feeding system from the Banks Micro mini-league right up to the national league. I am not going to support a system right now that says only clubs could participate in out-of-season tournaments.”
Today the BFA provided Barbados TODAY with a list of 12 sanctioned out-of-season tournaments as of December 8 last year. They were the Freundel Stuart and Richard Sealy Brittons Hill Community Tournament, Richard Sealy Under-13 Competition, St Phillip Super League, St Peter Ah Come From Independence Tournament, Ivan Speed Forde Soccer Classic, Rondell Crash Pollard Competition, Deacons Youth Beach Soccer Tournament, the Gathering of the Generals, Anglican Football League, Xclusif and Cosmo Club who participated in an overseas tournament held in St Vincent and the Grenadines.