Thu | Aug 13, 2020

‘Football can wait’ - CFU president calls for patience amid COVID-19 concerns

Published:Thursday | July 2, 2020 | 12:10 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Chavany Willis (left) of Portmore United takes a shot at goal while under pressure from Tivoli Gardens FC’s Jabeur Johnson during a Red Stripe Premier League match at the Spanish Town Prison Oval earlier this year.
Chavany Willis (left) of Portmore United takes a shot at goal while under pressure from Tivoli Gardens FC’s Jabeur Johnson during a Red Stripe Premier League match at the Spanish Town Prison Oval earlier this year.

President of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Randolph Harris said it will be very difficult for football to return to the region under the current coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during Tuesday’s Caribbean Broadcasting Union online seminar on the impact of COVID-19 on sports in the region, Harris said despite the low rate of infection in the Caribbean in comparison to other territories, restarting football at this stage would present a significant risk.

“The protocol set up by health officials for the countries at large would include more stringent measures to minimise the risk. (Football) players are playing a contact sport. Cricket may get away with it and some other sports may get away with it; but football is a contact sport and we have to ensure that whatever we do, we put everything in place to ensure that our players are safe,” said Harris.

“If you look at some of the measures employed in Europe, you will see how difficult it would be for the Caribbean to just romanticise and start football. There are so much protocol to be put in place and a lot of them will be difficult for us in the Caribbean, both from a financial and resource perspective,” added Harris, who is also president of the Barbados Football Association.

NOT WORTH IT

Harris underlined his belief that the risk of a restart simply outweighs the possible reward.

“The statistics from COVID-19 in our region has been very well managed. We want to keep it so. We are given these statistics on testing (only), and it is not the situation where everyone can be tested, so we just don’t want to take any chances.

“We are glad for the position that (regional countries are) in at the moment and we want to be very careful and give a little more time to see how things turn out. It is more damaging to restart football competitions and then sometime down the road we have to stop it again. It is better to give this situation a bit more time and see how it goes, and see if the players and people who are participating in the sport have an opportunity to regain their confidence to be involved,” he said.

No football has been played in the region since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CFU is made up of 25 regional FIFA member associations, including the Jamaica Football Federation.

Almost 50,000 cases have been confirmed in the region so far, with over 1000 deaths.