There was applause and handshakes all round in midweek at the Boscolo New York Palace Hotel in Budapest, Hungary as Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb and Antigua and Barbuda’s Gordon Derrick officially replaced controversial ex-FIFA Vice President and Works Minister Jack Warner at the helm of the CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union (CFU) respectively.
Webb and Cuban delegate Luis Hernandez were particularly scathing about the perceived mismanagement and corruption that were a feature of Warner’s reign.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Pro League football representative, W Connection and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, would get the first taste of the new set-up when they compete in the finals of the CFU Club Championship. Not surprisingly, no one knows when and where the final round will be held yet although that might be decided today.
In their way is the Antigua Barracudas, which is owned by Derrick, coached by the ABFA’s technical director Tom Curtis and managed to secure the right to represent Antigua and Barbuda despite having never played competitively on the island. The Barracudas play in what is effectively the United States third division.
For all the talk of a new era in the Caribbean, Derrick already bears some resemblance to his predecessor, Warner. Connection and Caledonia still remember the challenge of competing with the last CFU president’s Joe Public team while the owner had oversight over referees, fixtures and competition rules and routinely used his influence to poach players.
At the CFU’s semi-final group stage in Trinidad, the Barracudas’ jerseys featured numbers which so closely matched the colour of the shirts that it was virtually impossible for reporters and match commissioners to follow the game.
Match Commissioner Wayne Cunningham admitted that the Barracudas’ outfit was farcical but gave a nervous chuckle when asked if a formal complaint will be made.
There is likely to be similar unease for Connection and Caledonia owners when they meet Barracudas.