Guyana’s Director of Sport and Parliamentarian Neil Kumar told Kaieteur Sport yesterday that while he fully supports the Kashif & Shangai football tournament he could never support the exclusion of the Alpha football team from the prestigious tournament.
Kumar is calling on the Organisers to ‘do the right thing’ to have the best players in the competition and feels Alpha, who lost to Western Tigers in last year’s final, must be included.
Kumar said he is very supportive of Football in Guyana and understand the importance Footballers play.
“I see no way I can support Alpha being left out since they are one of the top teams in Guyana and consist of several leading players. As such I think there must be a compromise between K&S and not only Alpha but all of the teams, in terms of proper conditions and transparency,” Kumar said.
Kumar said K&S has been doing a great job in putting together the best and most well organised Football competition in Guyana for over two decades but added that clubs have raised several issues that should be addressed.
“The competition has become very big and successful but at the same time it is the footballers that I am concerned about. They deserve to play. This time it is Alpha and the next time could be another club,” Kumar stated.
“I am confident that K&S will do what is best for Guyana’s Football and include Alpha. I am calling on them to try and resolve this matter in the best interest of Football in this country. I am very supportive of these two guys and the work they have been doing for the promotion of Football in Guyana. But Alpha must be in the competition,” Kumar stressed.
The Director of Sport pointed out that while the tournament must go on Alpha’s participation is also needed since thousands of young people follow the tournament and support them.
The ‘sacking’ of the 2009 losing finalists from this year’s competition which starts on December 12, follows public comments by President of Alpha United Football Club, Odinga Lumumba, also a Presidential Advisor on Empowerment in the ruling PPP/C government, that the K&S Organisation is exploiting the players.
Lumumba believes that while the K & S tournament is a positive for the development of football in the country the organisers are exploiting the players’ talents and not properly compensating them.
The controversial Lumumba, who has been involved at a national level as a Boxing promoter and Franchise Holder for the Miss Guyana Universe Pageant, feels the K& S tournament’s top prize should be $4 million instead of $2 million.
The Alpha President argued that it takes $1.5 million to prepare his team for the end of year tournament and it is unfair to the players to be playing for $2 million.
Lumumba claims that after operational expenses during the tournament the players cannot receive sufficient reward for their efforts during the tournament.
“It is a good tournament, it is good for football development but there is a downside. I don’t have a problem with people making money but it has to trickle down to the players.
This is exploitation by the organisers and it is unfair to the players to use the skill of the footballers and make money,” Lumumba lamented.
The K& S Organisation issued a press release saying that statements attributed to Lumumba seek, unjustifiably, to tarnish the image of their organisation and to create unwarranted controversy ahead of the forthcoming tournament.
“Further, they come at a time when the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation is seeking to add even greater value to the tournament by introducing additional incentives specifically for clubs and players.
“Setting aside the fact that the prize monies for the 21st tournament have been increased by 100 per cent, we are, even now, engaged in negotiations with a United States-based sports marketing company, which, we expect, will add significantly to the value of the prizes available to players at the conclusion of the 2010/2011 tournament,” K&S claimed in their release.
The word Alpha means the beginning but this year’s public confrontation between Lumumba and K& S is far from the beginning of their disagreements.
During last year’s competition Lumumba was at odds with K&S over fixtures. “I want to make it clear that I respect the K&S tournament. They have done a lot for football in Guyana but then again, I am not prepared to allow them to go against the rules of the sport in the country. If they say we are not playing at the Guyana National Stadium, they have to give me and my team a valid reason for this,” Lumumba had said then.
“What goes for one goes for all! If you check the fixture now, only Pele is playing at the stadium. We are the national champions, at least they can show us some respect. I have written to Kashif and Shanghai about this and also to the GFF and I have talked to people from FIFA and CONCACAF,” Lumumba had informed.
Kumar could not say if this issue will affect the competition, which has received Government support and the availability of the state-owned Guyana National Stadium for the final.
“I cannot say if this problem will affect the competition…..that’s a question for the (Sports) Minister. I am saying that I think the competition is a very good one but good sense must prevail and Alpha, with all their quality players, must be included,” Kumar concluded. (Sean Devers)
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