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FOOTBALL AND THE DEFENCE OF SOVEREIGNTY by Rae Samuel

posted 15 Oct 2020, 20:36 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Oct 2020, 21:15 ]
"In Africa, Christianity's legacy is more complex...and has become the faith of just over half the continent... Football's
 contribution is more unambiguous. Unlike science or religion, the colonial sport has been turned into an emblem of pride and
independence and an instrument of social struggle by Africans''.
The ball is round. A global history of football
David Goldblatt 

“Another such victory and we shall be utterly ruined,” Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, 2000 years ago. Thank God I was taught some Greek History and Latin at Bishop High School. Otherwise I would have never been able to understand that adventure".
Keith Rowley
Prime Minister

Readers of Karl Marx and students of socialism would be well aware of his famous dictum "History first occurs as tragedy...then as Prime Minister Keith Rowley". One is hard pressed to describe his response to Justice Carol Gobin's ruling in the matter of United TTFA vs FIFA re: who is legitimately entitled to run football in this country.

Recently I had occasion to visit the Tunapuna cemetery to locate CLR James's resting place and it took some searching. I am sure as of this morning it is easier to find. On reading the Prime Minister's comment, Nello must have spun his concrete headstone into rubble. CLR James used the platform of cricket, as a metaphor for West Indian nationalism to campaign for Frank Worrell, a Black man, to be no longer denied the captaincy of the West Indies cricket team in 1960.

His main agitational weapon, outside his speaking skills, was the Nation, the organ of the People's National Movement. Yet 60 years later, here is the leader of the same 'great and it shall prevail’ PNM, advocating that a group of patriotic footballers and administrators, kowtow, not to another sovereign nation or aggressor, but to a sporting federation.

"We boys and girls, men and women are free to play by ourselves and against ourselves because nobody will be allowed to play with us.'' Or something so, said PM Rowley.

One reads this and thinks that even Garrulous Gary could not top this. It is almost as if the Prime Minister is offering a veiled apology to FIFA as his Police Commissioner offered to him a while back. I imagined that Queen Elizabeth awoke; read it this morning, turned to Phillip, or Fagan, or whoever was in her bedroom, and exclaimed: “Oh happy day. The neo-colonies are still in safe hands, at least in Trinidad and Tobago. I can't wait for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government conference. I am going to knight Sir Keith Christopher on the spot.''

A comrade from another trade union suggested to me that if the PM were a village chief when Africa was being pillaged for black skins, on being told that traders were capturing his people, he probably would have said "Please ask them not to break up families.'' Now we know for sure how he feels about reparations for slavery. 

If Shamfa had responded in this way, we would hardly have noticed. This is her batting average. Darryl Smith may have shown more sense, (you think?). Note that Anil Roberts former Minister of Sport has so far said nothing. The latter two all know that this goes waaayy beyond the touchline/boundary. Anil fought for his swimmers at major meets, never thinking that ''they may have to swim at home by themselves in Carenage or Balandra Bay''

IAAF Inside Athletics – Lamine Diack| News
Lamine Diack
I am reminded of a similar situation some 10 years ago in our region. The then head of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, now imprisoned in France for corruption, came to our region to intrigue in our administrative affairs. The then head of St. Vincent Olympic Games Committee, Keith Joseph, took a principled stand against such and was largely isolated.

It led to the selection of a Jamaican delegate as head of NACAC, the regional body. The incumbent, Dr Amadeo Francis, against all advice, allowed himself to be seduced and didn’t run again, in spite of his excellent record. Lamine promised him higher seats on the IAAF councils. Dr Francis lost not only his presidency but the promised elevation  His successor put Jamaican interests above all, scuttling our collaborative development programmes in St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and Trinidad/Tobago. Our local federation caved in and sided with Diack. 

Today Keith Joseph has risen in the ranks of the International Olympic Committee and fills executive posts in Caribbean and Latin America track and field and still continues to put Caribbean first. His pathway would have opened doors for other administrators to populate committees and have a strong Pan Caribbean base. The 'leaders' of many federations, Trinidad and Tobago included, never look/looked beyond the boundary.

Alas, what they are not realising is what happens to Trinidad and Tobago football in this matter, sets precedent for how other countries, outside of Europe, will be treated; not only in football but in sport in general. I refer to the case of Caster Semenya, the outstanding middle distance runner from South Africa. So outclassed were her European rivals that they made a case against her that she was not female because of her naturally occurring testosterone level. So the
FIFA Corruption!! | soccerfifa1y took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In its judgement, the Court ruled that it had to discriminate against Caster to protect the other white competitors. Rest assured if she was one of those transplanted athletes running for Bahrain, England, USA or Canada she would have had no problem 

Never mind the myopia of the Prime Minister, never mind the virtual pleading of a certain talk show host to United TTFA to surrender, a significant chord has been struck. If this said Prime Minister were around in 1937, he would no doubt have distanced himself from Uriah Butler, as the founder of his party did in 1956. Trinidad and Tobago has raised in a formal way, a challenge to the 'extra-territoriality' of FIFA which put them above the laws of sovereign nations. Wars are won in battles and smaller nations, fighting larger ones, wage protracted struggle and build alliances.

What this further exposes is how clueless the present administration, like so many before it, is about sports in national development. We in Trinidad and Tobago have seen that building stadium after stadium has not translated into sporting success. We probably have the most swimming pools, synthetic tracks, hotels and guest houses, outdoor playing fields, indoor courts in the region. We do not produce winners in relation to those investments.

We have been told that we will still host the 2021 commonwealth Youth Games, whatever year they are held. These are mega events that put the host countries on the world sporting map and require a high level of organisational discipline. The host government is intrinsically bound up in the staging. Thousands of officials, athletes, media personnel, diplomatic officials, sponsors are in and out of your country over a period of at least one year. In 2019 the Commonwealth Games Committee organised a seminar on "Women leadership in Sport'' because the gender identity/parity issue is on all agendas.

Maybe it would have been a good thing if ithe games had to be cancelled. Keith and Shamfa leading our charge...Wow! Nightmare food!

P.S. The P.M in his comments indicated that he studied Latin and Greek. Bonus Iocosa or πολύ καλά φίλε he certainly is not. Translation? “a jolly good fellow''. I had to search the internet for them words, but if the priest could play, who is me!
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