“If we’re not careful, we will commission a state of lawlessness” – Forde
…GFF President clarifies clampdown on unsanctioned football
By Jemima Holmes
At the close of 2019, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) made the announcement that it was given ammunition by FIFA to clamp down on unsanctioned football tournaments along with players and officials who participate in such.
While many in the football world were sceptical about the stunning revelation, others, such as tournament organisers, insisted that “the football gotta play regardless”. Similar comments were made irrespective of knowing the GFF’s rationale for taking such a bold step.
Now, GFF President Wayne Forde, speaking exclusively with <<<Guyana Times Sport>>>, shared the plethora of reasons why the Federation was forced to clamp down on unsanctioned football activity and affirmed that the GFF would spare wrongdoers.
“We believe that football should be organised within spaces that are safe, the rules should be clearly established, there should be sufficient protection for the players and officials; we believe that if there is any challenge or conflict arising out of a game or the tournament, it should be handled through the judicial arms of the GFF,” the GFF boss stated as one of his primary reasons for making the move.
Delving deeper into the issue, Forde noted that many of the unsanctioned events, primarily ‘futsal’ tournaments, do not cater to certain safety precautions that should be made at any football game.
“We believe that a lot of these organisers do not have the requisite insurance coverage in the event that someone from the public is injured or a player is injured and we are also cautious that the proceeds from these events don’t contribute to the development of football,” Forde further explained.
When probed about how proactive the GFF intended to be in its clampdown, Forde noted that the Federation did not intend to keep the entire football fraternity under a microscope.
“Of course, we’re not a policing agency and we can’t expect to know what happens in all parts of the country, but we expect our members to be vigilant because we just have to bring a halt to this,” he said.
Nevertheless, Forde explained that the GFF would always look to resolve the arising issues in the best possible way, so as to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
“We do acknowledge that there are unique challenges in different parts of the footballing community that we have to bring leadership to, we have to try to resolve, we have to intervene from time to time. We also have the prerogative if we think that our interventions are not bearing fruit to act and it’s the last thing that we want to do because anything that can cause you the desired results without creating unnecessary instability or unwanted changes is the path that I will always pursue,” he explained.
The GFF President also spoke to the part that member associations, executives and officials (referees included) are expected to play in this ‘behavioural reform’ of football in Guyana.
“The short answer to that is yes we are and we’ve made it absolutely clear to our members that if we have any reason to believe that they are not implementing the constitution – not the directive of the Federation – the constitution of the GFF, we will take action against them. We’ve been clear on that.”
“We are not going to permit our officials to be part of any event that we haven’t sanctioned,” Forde went on to clarify. “May stakeholders may think that it serves them best and there’re benefits to it, but I will argue that no one benefits from it and if we’re not careful, we will commission a state of lawlessness that will make the football space difficult for everyone. We will not stand by and allow that to happen, and FIFA will not stand by and allow that to happen,” Forde declared as he sought to highlight the part key stakeholders play when they support unsanctioned tournaments.