The Barbados Football Association (BFA) needs to act swiftly on sexual harassment charges facing the local governing body to avoid the situation swirling out of control, says long-standing sports administrator George LasCaris.
LasCaris along with fellow past national player and captain Anthony ‘Daisy’ Clarke is among those who believe that the BFA should deal with the allegations of sexual harassment of female players within the organisation as a matter of urgency.
The situation has generated great interest and has so far been drawn to the attention of world governing body FIFA, after a petition from a group of players made the rounds. A letter was also sent to the top brass of the BFA to address the situation after a female player on the senior national made allegations against a male on the BFA staff.
“I don’t know what action the BFA has taken. I saw a report in the newspaper where the president said he was unaware of anything, which is most ironic. The newspaper had a copy of the letter which was sent to the president but yet the president was unaware of that. So, that maybe tells us how they are dealing with it.
“And of course, if the people who sent the letter believe that there was no positive or urgent response from the BFA, then the only course was to go to CONCACAF and FIFA. Like the rest of the public, we are waiting to hear because in 2021 you cannot be sweeping things under the carpet anymore.
“One thing that the BFA should have learnt from world events, the more you try to hide, the more things come to the surface. One thing the late former prime minister [Owen] Arthur always told me, ‘deal with things upfront and right away’. So, that is a lesson for the BFA, deal with things urgently. Don’t deny any knowledge of them,” said LasCaris, a former BFA president.
Former Weymouth Wales striker Anthony ‘Daisy’ Clarke told Barbados TODAY if authorities were encouraging young women to get involved in football, they could not have situations like these which were going to discourage the same persons they want to encourage.
“FIFA has zero tolerance as far as these situations are concerned. I think sometime only last year FIFA banned for a prolonged time the president of the Asian Football Association for a similar accusation. He was subsequently found guilty and banned for a long time.
“So, I am thinking that once this accusation is made in terms of our women players in the local football association, the BFA without delay would have to investigate the situation and try to bring it to some kind of normalcy,” Clarke said.
He added: “The other thing is that their parents would not feel comfortable with these kinds of situations swirling around. They would not encourage their young daughters and such like to get involved in football. So, you will more or less kill what you are trying to develop in terms of women’s football.”
A legend in Barbados’ football, Clarke has urged the football association to take responsibility and answer for any irregularities and indiscipline committed. He said: “The onus would be on the BFA whatever they do to dig deep to be certain that they are hiring the right people to fulfil the various jobs within the football association.”
Former chairman of the Referees Committee and past BFA board member Barney Callender acknowledged that it was a very serious matter and was of the view that a thorough investigation should be carried out.
Callender said that once the matter was dealt with that the BFA should seek to restore the confidence of the football public.
“It is going to create a lot of reservation but it is nothing new in football. I don’t think parents should get carried away about these things that happen in sports. These things happen in sports all over the world. It is how we as a country and association deal with it. I think we have to be honest and make sure we carry out the correct investigation and make the decisions.
“Things must be put in place to regain the confidence of the footballing public as it relates to women’s football. Damage control must be done and ensure this situation doesn’t reoccur. The management of women’s football has been suffering for a while and these kinds of things should not occur. But they happen in any part of the world, so if it happens, we have to deal with it.
“The longer it stays out there going on, the more damage it is going to create. It needs to be put to a finish. The BFA needs to make a decision if there is one to be made and move on,” Callender said.
Meanwhile, Tito Beckles, a national defender and former coach of the University of the West Indies women’s team also noted that the BFA needed to get a grip of the situation before it explodes.
“I guess the president should be able to meet with the individuals because I don’t know who they are. I think they should at least get a grip on it before it explodes,” Beckles said.