The verdict is still out on whether local football will resume before year-end at the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Wildey Turf.
And while football pundits have expressed dismay at the possibility of a 2021 restart, president Randy Harris said the need to ensure the safety of the players was paramount.
Harris was a guest on last night's final episode of this season's Penalty Spot, which airs weekly on VOB 92.9FM, along with new Junior Vice President Omari Eastmond and new Treasurer Christian Renrick.
“Many of the players who are playing football internationally have tested positive for COVID-19, even with protocols in place. We cannot do it at the moment. We don’t have the resources to do so,” he stressed.
And while Harris said he made no apologies, some believed with no community spread, the BFA along with the Barbados Netball Association, the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association and the Athletics Association of Barbados had short-changed athletes and was more than in a position to restart sports across the island, even without spectators.
“I understand, but I do not think we are ready to put on matches and competitions anywhere in Barbados at this time. Certain sporting disciplines feel they can resume or might have the wherewithal to resume, but in football, it is a more serious situation,” he said.
Harris, who is also Vice President of Concacaf and president of the Caribbean Football Union added that football’s world governing body FIFA had decided to suspend the playoffs originally scheduled for next month as a result of the ongoing global pandemic.
“We have the responsibility to be very careful, and we don’t want to create a problem. That time is going to come when everybody will know there can be a resumption of football without any problems,” he maintained.
However, the long-standing football administrator said the senior men’s national team remained in training ahead of their quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“If we have to host any matches, it will be a one-off match. We can manage and organize a match at the Turf because we have the controls. But we can’t organize a competition. We have to be confident that we can protect the people who are participating in any way in football. If it comes to one game that we have to play, I think we can manage it,” he said.
He also hinted at having the games, local and international, broadcast to fans around the globe.
“I believe that playing without spectators is possible in our situation, once we can get the matches recorded and take them live. We can charge a small fee for viewing and it might even bring more public interest because people would be able to stay in their homes and watch the game. I am quite happy to look at other alternatives, taking into consideration the situation as it is, and financially we may be in a better position than if we were depending on spectators only,” Harris said.