While much cannot be said of its play on the field, Barbados is quietly moving up the FIFA organizational and administrative ladder by becoming home to the regional training office, then having a national elected as Caribbean boss.
Opening of a FIFA Regional Development Office on the island in late May catapulted Barbados to the central administrative point for growth of the game in the Caribbean, and less than two weeks later Barbados Football Association President Randolph Harris beat USVI’s Hillaren Frederick 27-3 in voting for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidency for the next four years at a FIFA meeting in Moscow, days before the 2018 World Cup.
The June 10 vote happened merely hours after Harris won another election — that of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football [CONCACAF] vice president — for the next two years.
Harris’ two elevations place him in direct control of the 31-member associations that make up the CFU, and as the number two administrator for football, covering the 41-member associations of that comprise CONCACAF.
“I have the responsibility of looking after the region and I have good support from the executive council and members of the CFU.” – Randolph Harris
He had been acting as interim CFU head since suspension of Antiguan, Gordon Derrick, from FIFA last year.
“I have the responsibility of looking after the region and I have good support from the executive council and members of the CFU and hopefully I could give them the kind of service that they expect from me,” Harris said.
“Right now there is a lot of stuff going on within the Caribbean,” he said while speaking of “a sense of separation” within the CFU member associations. “Some of the members don’t like the direction the CFU is going, and I was asked to think about it.”
Along with the expectation that Harris will change the regional organization’s direction, there are also demands from his Barbados home.
As the Barbados Nation newspaper noted in an editorial, the island “is not a powerhouse in soccer by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, we struggle even at the sub-regional level, which puts us very much in the shadow of regional leaders in the sport, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.”
“Mr. Harris’ elevation to these high regional positions in the sport may be a good launch pad for Barbados to evolve a well-defined football culture,” the newspaper stated, as it conceded, “admittedly, he can’t do it alone.”