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Crucial task for new CFU head Harris

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Randolph Harris (left) next to President of CONCACAF Victor Montagliani when he visited Barbados earlier this year.

Extracted from the Saturday Sun Editorial - September 23, 2017 - www.nationnews.com

There must be a sense of pride and feeling of goodwill among all Barbadians for their football executive, Randy Harris. Without fan-fare he has risen to the top position in the Caribbean Football Union.

What a glorious opportunity to lead what is undoubtedly the most popular mass-based sport.

Normally, moving into this top position would not be fraught with high levels of risk, but these days that is part of the job.

Some of Harris’s predecessors have made it this way. Football has become tainted as too many of its leaders, whether at FIFA level, CONCACAF and even the CFU levels, have been caught up in bribery and corruption scandals on a grand scale. Jeffrey Webb, who led CONCACAF, is today behind bars in the US, Jack Warner, once the most powerful man in soccer in this region, is fighting extradition to the US while bigwigs Church Blazer and Sepp Blatter both had to bow out in disgrace.

The FBI and the US Justice Department investigated the dirty dealings which had become engrained in FIFA and which literally brought the organisation to its knees after years of accusation of bribery and wrongdoings. There was a ripple effect worldwide.

The FIFA brand, and by extension the soccer game, has become tarnished by the arrests of some of its leading officials.

Still, FIFA today remains a multi-billion dollar organisation and football remains as popular as ever.

The public would have felt that all the charges of criminality were now something behind all the football federations. So the shocking news this week that the clean-up was still continuing and that CFU was impacted after FIFA’s ethics committee rules against CFU president Gordon Derrick caught many by surprise.

This has paved the way for Harris’ elevation.

He has taken on an awesome responsibility and must realise that he must be compliant with all the rules and continue to be of impeccable character every step of the way. Being honest and upright have been amongst his attributes.

Football in the Caribbean under his leadership must always follow the general rules of conduct and he must remain loyal to what he has been chosen to do. He has a duty to disclose when the wrong approaches are made to him or those associated with him.

His role is to lead the development of the sport in the Caribbean, not just Barbados, and he must not fall prey to the weaknesses which were the undoing of his predecessors.

In it all and through it all, Harris still has a duty to local soccer. The standards need to be raised and urgently. Hopefully he will place special emphasis on its development in our schools and for women in the sport.

We wish Harris well and all the success to help put a new face on football in this region.

We most certainly don’t want him to sleep with one eye open.

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