By Paul Nicholson
July 25 – The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) has elected Antiguan Gordon Derrick to a second four-year term as president.
Derrick fought off a challenge from Trinidad and Tobago president David John-Williams, winning 18 votes to 12.
In his manifesto for the next year four years he put emphasis on grassroots development and increased competition across the region. He also included a commitment to “oversee the implementation of a Caribbean Professional League”.
A professional Caribbean League has been a long held ambition in the region and was a cornerstone of John-William’s election platform. The issue for the Caribbean is how or who pays for that league. CONCACAF, FIFA and UEFA showed commitment to making that league happen but they chose to show it outside the normal channels of the CFU.
It remains to be seen if they will continue that commitment through the normal channels of the CFU – channels that FIFA president Gianni Infantino said that the world governing body was keen to empower at the FIFA Congress in Mexico City in May.
Either way, it seems likely that John-Williams, a member of the last CONCACAF task force into examining the viability of a professional league, will be a strong voice. He is the owner of one of the Caribbean’s top professional clubs W Connection.
Derrick, who took on the presidency after the dark years of Jack Warner’s presidency but was then faced with the CONCACAF scandal which saw the arrest of president Jeff Webb (from the Cayman Islands) and then interim president Alfredo Hawit, will be looking for a more stable environment to build the CFU in his second term.
What became clear during his first term was that the CFU and its member associations had been stolen from over a long period of time by elected officers in the regional governing body CONCACAF.
That the regional governing body had given financial support to one of the candidates in the election ultimately counted against John-Williams as the Caribbean voted for unification and self determination against the potential big brother imposed rule of the North American based and led confederation.
The CFU needs the financial support of the confederation, but similarly CONCACAF needs the political backing of the Caribbean in larger political circles. That relationship is currently one of deep distrust, not helped by interference in this election.
Derrick and CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani will need to move quickly to heal those divisions. To do this Montagliani will need to show a firm commitment to the CFU and the Caribbean beyond the political arena. Somewhat ironically, Derrick and Montagliani both served on the CONCACAF statutes reform committee that saw new rules passed at the CONCACAF extraordinary general meeting in February in Zurich.
Other members elected to CFU position at the general meeting were: Cheney Joseph (Grenada) First Vice President; Rignaal Francisca (Curacao) Second Vice President; Lyndon Cooper (St. Lucia) Third Vice President; Richard Dijkhoff (Aruba) Fourth Vice President; and Randolph Harris (Barbados), Eric Labrador (Puerto Rico), Bruce Blake (Cayman Islands), and Jeaninne Wong Loi Sing (Bonaire) Executive Committee Members.
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