By Neto Baptiste
President of the Liberta Sports Club, Kenneth Benjamin, is calling for the resignation vice president Gwen Salmon, head of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) competitions committee.
His call comes amidst public debate regarding the circumstances under which the country’s women’s under-17 football team was ruled out of the CONCACAF leg of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers slated to start this week.
“Somebody should resign from the ABFA and who is in charge of female football? It’s Gwen Salmon and I am calling her out because it is not the first time this thing is happening. If you remember some time ago when the team went to Barbados for visa and the team got stuck there and I think they were going to the same tournament or something and the Barbados Football Association had to help them out. The parents had to pack and send clothes from here and they flew straight from Barbados so they didn’t have time to come back home,” he said.
New broke earlier this week that visa issues has forced the team out of the qualifiers.
According to the technical director for football, Sowerby Gomes, a reshuffling of visa appointments in Barbados due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in that country, moved their scheduled visit to dates after the tournament would have ended. Gomes said attempts to solve the problem proved futile.
Benjamin said the matter must be investigated and appropriate actions taken.
“What we are seeing here is gross incompetence and we must call them out because administration as well, must get called out, too. The girls were training in Liberta as well because they would come out there when they shut off from up at the [technical center]. They would come in the hot sun with the coach and run up and down and so on, and what will you tell them if they say they don’t want to play anymore? Somebody has to lose their job over this because this is serious business, this is a World Cup qualifier and I hope that the parents as well come with us and stand up because this is not to just go so,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda were scheduled to contest Group D of the qualifiers alongside St Lucia, Guadeloupe and Guyana. St. Lucia and Guadeloupe have also pulled out of the qualifiers reportedly for similar reasons.
CONCACAF, over the weekend, announced changes to the groups and schedule of the qualifiers.
The announcement, according to a release, followed the withdrawal of a number of teams due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, which resulted in an uneven number of teams per group.
Group A will now consist of Saint Kitts and Nevis, US Virgin Islands and Suriname with Group B housing Barbados, Curaçao and Belize. Group C consists of Honduras, Anguilla, Guyana and Turks and Caicos Islands.