For love of country
President of the Barbados Football Association, Randy Harris, has made a personal plea to members of the senior men’s national team to put country first, as they seek glory in the ongoing CFU Caribbean Cup Group qualifying tournament in Haiti.
That’s because the BFA is still not in a position to pay a stipend to any of the players wearing ultramarine and gold in the upcoming second round of the competition.
Harris told the SATURDAY SUN that the BFA was currently in the red, and was waiting for a bonus from world governing body FIFA to reach these shores.
That bonus, taken from profits earned at the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year, is expected to be in the region of $1 million, but won’t reach the BFA’s coffers until later this year.
In the meantime, Harris made the decision to explain to the players just how dire the situation is. “We don’t have any money at the moment to pay stipends. I won’t sit as president and promise money to players when I don’t have it,” Harris said. “I spoke to the players about it myself. I didn’t want them to hear it from anyone else. When it was passed on to them, they understood. I don’t expect it to be a problem. “
Barbados started the second tournament on a positive note Wednesday night, defeating St Kitts-Nevis 3-2 in a thrilling match. They played hosts Haiti in their second match last night.
According to Harris, the players have rallied together under tough circumstances, since they are on a special mission. “It is their dream to play in the (CONCACAF) Gold Cup. That is where professional footballers from the Caribbean region are born.
“That is where they get the chance to be pros, and they have never played at that level before, so they want it bad, “ the president said.
Harris said he made a poimt to explain how cash strapped the BFA was, before the team competed and advanced from the first round of the CFU Caribbean Cup in Martinique last month.
He also noted that players were told nothing would be held against them, and no discipline would be handed down against any players who chose to withdraw themselves from national duty due to the non-payment of a stipend.
Harris said no players withdrew their services, since this second round of the competition is a one-off chance for most of the players to be seen by professional scouts, ahead of the Gold Cup, which isn’t a certainty.
In fact, Harris said even though the BFA has handed out stipends before, since its players were all amateurs, there was no set amount that is paid, and payments were at the discretion of the association.
He noted the BFA was already financially stretched to the limit from making sure Barbados competed at the Caribbean Cup, which made it even more difficult for stipends to be issued to all players on national duty.
“Because of our debt, we simply can’t afford to pay stipends.
“Better days are ahead, but I can’t say when stipends will be paid from. We would pay it if we have it. “