A blow has been dealt to our soccer fraternity
Stabroek News
September 29, 2001

Dear Editor,

Oh,Guyana! Beautiful Guyana! This country of hospitable, sociable and intelligent inhabitants, has been treated to the harsh reality of a promise being a comfort to a fool! FIFA Vice-President, Mr Austin 'Jack' Warner, an extremely quick, and sometimes not too clearly comprehensible communicator, has dealt an ignoble and may I add ignominious blow to our soccer fraternity, and in the process escaped unscathed, courtesy of a seemingly unprepared media! The facts are, as I understand them, that Mr Warner, on a December 1999 visit to Guyana, had indicated that this country would get in excess of US$1M through FIFA's GOAL project, for stadium construction once land could be identified for the facility. Less than two years later, Guyana is graced by the presence of Mr Warner's boss, Mr Joseph Sepp Blatter, who `sets the record straight' about FIFA's role, with regard to sporting facilities, erasing the notion, which had obviously been fuelled by "some statement or other," that Guyana would be getting adequate funding for a national stadium. The FIFA top dog must have been bewildered by the fanfare associated with the turning of the sod ceremony, since apparently he was unaware of what we thought we were about to witness, in terms of both historic and future significance. I certainly do not envy those directly linked to the proceedings of that afternoon, since the shock expressed by those covering the event on air, efficiently conveyed the mind?boggling events! I would like to make a few points, and ask some questions about this dramatic twist of fate, and hope that they are appropriate in the circumstances.

A whole nation was expectant, and rightly so! What exactly were Mr Jack Warner's comments? Our GFF's President, Mr Klass, who has maintained a great and respected relationship with Mr Warner, seemed as surprised as everyone at the development, and I could well understand his utterances, given the nature of his company. Having referred to the issue as a perceived hoax, I sincerely think that it was the media's duty to produce, to Mr Warner, amidst the confusion, and for the consumption of his superior, at the media briefing, evidence that our expectations were not delusional. Instead the CONCACAF boss is allowed to matter-of-factly, and rudely dismiss the claim with, "You may call it training center if you want, but I call it a stadium," and "Whether you call it a hoax or not that is of course your position." In addition there is the coup-de-grace, "If our offer is accepted we could turn the sod five minutes from now." I will hold out, that the space between the Tuesday evening fiasco, and the Wednesday briefing, was enough for Mr Warner to have been confronted with taped evidence of his exact utterances, be it audio or video. He should not have been able to dominate without a credible challenge!

Let me conclude by saying this: if we continue to call ourselves poor, and solicit assistance blindly without self-respect, many more occurrences of this nature will take place, even under our noses! An old teacher of mine used to say, "Ass, grass, yard," explaining, "If you mek yuhself grass, ass gun eat you." Think about it!

Yours faithfully,

Nigel McKenzie