The politics of sport
Stabroek News
October 9, 2001

What has politics to do with sport? Probably nothing, except that politicians and sports administrators seem to speak the same language, "Bureaucratese."

Bureaucratese is more often than not a cover up language, behind which personal responsibility is either absent or obscured by too many words, phrases and abstract expressions.

This is the case with the statement issued by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) and published in the Guyana Chronicle of Sunday October 6 on their role in the infamous stadium fiasco.

The convoluted response by Colin Klass, head of the GFF, attempts to absolve the local parent body, from accepting responsibly either wholly or partly for the stadium that was never meant to be.

It was a similar situation with regional footballing `czar' Austin `Jack' Warner. Warner, after initially declaring that FIFA would build a stadium here once land was available, recanted and in true bureaucratic style, said what he meant all along was that FIFA would build a training facility (which in his opinion is the same thing as a stadium) to the tune of US$1m.

One of the many misleading statements issued by the GFF is the one which suggests that there never was an agreement by FIFA to dole out US$20 million for Guyana's stadium.

"Our records reveal that the sum of US$ 20 million was an indicative cost for the construction of a Sports Stadium and was never intended as a cost to be borne solely by FIFA," the GFF statement said.

However, if this is so then how come the GFF, in a sworn affidavit presented to the supreme court before a commissioner of oaths and signed on January 17, 2000 admitted that FIFA had agreed to finance the building of a stadium here, "which would bring into Guyana approximately US$20,000,000 or $G3.6 billion."

This is an extremely serious matter. Klass should now be hauled before the court to explain why it was never stated in the affidavit that FIFA was not going to (a) fully finance the building of the project, (b) that it was not a stadium but a training facility and (c) and that only US$1m was being allocated by FIFA for the project.

What is disturbing about the entire situation is that there seems to be no attempt to launch an official enquiry into the sordid affair.

The Minister reponsible for sport has said she will conduct her own private investigation while president Bharrat Jagdeo was reported as saying in Sunday's Guyana Chronicle that he did not want to examine the details of what happened.

The big question is why no investigation. Is it because the GFF is a non-governmental organisation and that FIFA frowns on government interference in activities of their affiliates?

If so, then perhaps an independent commission of enquiry can be set up headed probably by former Guyana Olympic Association head Rudy Harper, and the findings made public. Someone must be held accountable. There has been too much criticisms over the lack of transparency and accountablity of sports associations.

Sports administrators are elected to serve in the best interests of the citizens of a country and are accountable to them.

Now too is the time for the Georgetown Football League, the various sub-associations and the clubs to demand a special meeting/hearing of the GFF to investigate and find out why our footballers were duped over the stadium fiasco.

They must also demand a detailed account of how many instalments

of the annual subvention of $US250,000 the GFF has received and what has been done with it.

What is especially galling is the complete lack of respect for the intelligence of the Guyanese people as shown by those who control football in Guyana and the region.

Klass has presided over local football for over a decade to the game's detriment.

What is ironical about the present situation is that Guyana's football needs to be rescued from Klass, who it is alleged, resuced Guyana's football after the 1984 Los Angeles fiasco.