Football Association tackles issues

President of the St Lucia Football Association Patrick Mathurin.

At a recent press conference at their office on Barnard Hill, the St Lucia Football Association (SLFA) attempted to set the record straight on two burning issues —alleged bribes by a former FIFA official to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) which St Lucia is a member of and the continuing saga concerning a sports initiative by former UK footballer Les Ferdinand dubbed “Search for a Star St Lucia.”
Right off the bat President of the St Lucia Football Association, Patrick Mathurin, dealt with what he called “a level of bribery allegations.” Reading out loud a prepared statement he let it be known that at no time was the SLFA or any of its officers under investigation and at no time was the SLFA or its representative offered any money or any other cash incentive while in Trinidad to vote. However, Mathurin did point out he could not speak for his Caribbean brothers in the same vein because he did not know.
Commenting on the resignation of former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner who allegedly offered bribes to members of the CFU in exchange for votes Mathurin said: “This is a sad day for football in the Caribbean because it has definitely left a void. It is now for us as a Caribbean football community to mend fences, to unite so as to ensure the work started by Warner continues and develops.”
With that out of the way, the SLFA chief turned his attention towards what he called “The Les Ferdinand issue.” It has to do with Search for a Star St Lucia” —a sports initiative geared towards identifying two young St Lucian footballers. They would get the opportunity to showcase their talent to coaches at the internationally renowned Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club in the UK.
This initiative is somewhat in jeopardy, in what seems to be a misunderstanding or lack of communication on the part of both entities. Mathurin attempted to clear the air.
He made it clear that at no time did the SLFA say to Ferdinand or any of his team that the SLFA were not interested in partnering with them. Mathurin recalled meeting with Ferdinand and his team in February, where the SLFA received a two page proposal. It was at that time he indicated to them that although the SLFA seemed to like the concept they had a number of issues.
According to Mathurin among the major concerns, was the fact that nowhere in the proposal was there a partnership with the SLFA; and secondly the SLFA needed to authenticate any  partners they work with and furthermore would need documentation from the Les Ferdinand Academy of sports and from Tottenham Hotspurs.
The SLFA President said: “As a football Association we pride ourselves as being a responsible organization and will leave no stone unturned when we enter into partnership arrangements with anybody.”
Mathurin also felt the timing was bad for the SLFA when it came to Ferdinand and his associates launching and evaluating talent for Search for a Star St Lucia, given the fact St Lucia has five national teams currently in training.
Nevertheless, Ferdinand and his group did arrive here in June and although football evaluation sessions took place, there were problems in acquiring venues.
It’s hard to tell where things stand right now. However, at a recent cocktail reception held in honour of Ferdinand and his associates at the Prime Minister’s official residence, Prime Minister Stephenson King intervened. He challenged the Ministry of Sports to take on the initiative as a national effort, in the interest not of the Prime Minister, not of the government but the interest of the people of St Lucia.
When asked by this reporter how do you feel about government’s intervention in this matter Mathurin replied: “Like everything else the government is the government, they have a vested interest in ensuring that people get the best opportunities available. If the Prime Minister indicated he would do his best to ensure this happens then I believe him. I suppose in a sense he is reaching out.”
Les Ferdinand and his group returned to the UK last week, not having fully accomplished what they initially set out to do.                  Hopefully they will be back to work with and settle any differences they may have with the St Lucia Football Association.

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