Officials rethink timing of regional football tourney
MIAMI – The Caribbean’s football chief, Gordon Derrick, is considering a different period for the staging of the Caribbean Cup finals.
Derrick, the president of the Caribbean Football Union, is suggesting the finals be held in June or July instead of the current December period.
Derrick has publicly conceded that the timing of the just-ended tournament was not the best and has reported empty stadiums as a feature of the 10-day competition that ended Sunday.
The preliminary rounds were also marked by small crowds with the Barbados leg having meagre attendance compared to bumper crowds for the Lime Pelican Football Challenge and the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Football Classic.
“If we could have our way, we would try to shift the tournament to June or July so that every team would be at full strength,” said Gordon, also the general secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association.
“We just came out of turmoil (cash-for-vote scandal) … we have to sit down at the CFU executive level to see how we can twist it around to see how we can get a better timing.”
Cuba won the competition for the first time by defeating former champions Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in Sunday’s finals at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
The Cubans also collected the winner’s purse of US$100, 000 as well as secured a place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the USA next year.
Last weekend’s tournament was in competition with a number of local events including a play, a car racing competition and an international half-marathon.
“Honestly, I thought it was a great idea to host the tournament on the holiday weekend (Heroes Day),” said Derrick who was elected to lead CFU in the aftermath of the cash-for-vote scandal that cast a shadow over the game.
“But in retrospect, we should have had it a week before so it wouldn’t clash with the holiday, or a week after, but that would have been too close to Christmas”.
Derrick has also lamented the failure of the Caribbean Cup to attract a major sponsor but said the event was staged with no major setbacks.
The budget to host the Caribbean Cup was in the vicinity of US$500 000.
“So we did what we had to do (and) begged CONCACAF a bit. The Antiguan Government was happy to have the tournament here, so they put in a little thing,” said the CFU president.
“The local organisation put in a little thing and minor local sponsors did theirs.”