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Harris should quit LIME Challenge

Harris should quit LIME Challenge

By Andi Thornhill | Wed, November 14, 2012 - 12:00 AM

I have known Randy Harris for over 30 years as a football administrator and I have learned to trust his judgement on most matters relating to his favourite sport.

His passion and integrity have never been questioned and you can say the only blot on his football character came as a result of taking the Barbados Football Association (BFA) to court over a matter in which he thought he was disadvantaged.

He lost the presidency to Ronald Jones in controversial circumstances in 2004 and was also defeated in the subsequent battle through arbitration to have that decision overturned. He lost the war as well because football’s governing body, FIFA, banned him for four years for trying to settle the matter in court contrary to their regulations of having internal disputes resolved without resorting to litigation.

Harris served his time on the sidelines during his ban but his interest never waned in football. I believe this sport pumps his heart, blood is secondary. In a biblical sense you can say he has become the cornerstone of an organization that once rejected him.

He has risen to the highest office of president, a post he craved for many moons having served as a council member and general secretary at various times.

He wears the crown and should know that he will have his supporters as well as his detractors. I have been a Harris supporter over the years because I believe he is very genuine in his efforts to change the image of the sport and to see the players earn something from it.

Contrary to popular belief, we were at odds on one occasion in 1985 when he was misinformed about a statement allegedly made by then national coach Keith Griffith on a radio programme I hosted and he was very peeved. However, once the dust settled and he accepted that he was misled there were no hard feelings.

In other words, I think he’s also a person who can accept when he is wrong and move on. Similarly, I have been known to call a spade a spade despite friendship or even admiration for someone who is outstanding at what they do but who I won’t necessarily consider to be a friend.

It is in this context that I agree with those who believe that Harris should sever ties as an organizer with the LIME Pelican Football Challenge after this year’s competition. I think most fair-minded people would agree, though, that he should continue to function in that respect for the time being because he wasn’t president when the tournament started in early September.

You see, never mind a person’s track record when it comes to integrity and character, there will be some – even if they are in the minority – who will see a conflict of interest in the positions someone like Harris holds as president of a national association and an organizer of a prominent out of season tournament or an affiliation to any other related group.

It can come in the form of a judgement or particular stance he has to take in relation to some matter involving a team or individual. I think the perfect example was the threat by the management of Bajan Elite to protest a result involving a player from an opposing side in the current LIME tournament.

Bajan Elite’s coach Jerry Skeete felt that Harris had pulled rank in allowing Diquan Adamson to play in the competition when he wasn’t a beneficiary of an amnesty granted to some players, who had unresolved disciplinary matters during the regular BFA season.

On this occasion, Harris was able to wriggle out of a tight spot by pointing out that he had given permission to other players in Adamson’s position to play as well in the LIME and the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils’ Classic.

I am sure Harris’ position on this matter was laced with goodwill but he’s now in a post where he must be seen to be independent of being party to any perceived bias that seems to disadvantage any teams or individuals.

If he does anything different, it will compromise his role as head of the BFA and lead to friction which the association is known for but which needs to be buried as business has to be conducted differently to win over those who may still have doubts that football has the potential to make any significant gains.

The industrious Harris is now president of all football organisations but satellite of none.

It’s ironic that his predecessor, Jones was constantly harassed  by many to give up leadership of the BFA because he was also a cabinet minister. I was among them solely on the basis that I didn’t believe be had enough time for football.

Now I’m among those who feel Harris shouldn’t belong to any football group other than the BFA while he is president simply because it will be seen as a conflict of interest.

Therefore, I duly expect him to bid the LIME Pelican Football Challenge a fond farewell after the final on Independence Day. It will be hard but it should be done.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.

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