Complaint to FIFA. Not Us, Say Canadians

Audley Boyd
Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

THE Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) yesterday denied a report that it had lodged a protest against playing its September 7 World Cup qualifier against Jamaica at the National Stadium.

"There has been no formal or informal protest lodged by Canada to the best of my knowledge, Merhdad Masoudi, communications manager of the CSA, told The Gleaner in an interview from Vancouver yesterday.

"I saw a story yesterday, on the wire that FIFA ordered Jamaica to bring their pitch condition up to international standard. That is the first thing I saw and there has been no protest or basically any official letter or unofficial letter sent to FIFA from Canada," he said.

"So .. this story has no base or truth. If such a letter had been sent to FIFA I would have been aware of that."

However CONCACAF president Austin "Jack" Warner, who is also a vice-president of FIFA, told The Gleaner in an interview from Peru yesterday, that the person who complained must be another official of the Canadian Soccer Association.

He said FIFA was going to send officials to do a field inspection but he intervened, claiming "the field is the field that they (Jamaica) have always used and we, of course, don't see anything wrong with the field. So there is where the match will be played."

When informed of Masoudi's denial, Warner said: "What do you expect them to say? They are coming to Jamaica, they would not want Jamaicans to know that they complained. Asking them and they say no doesn't surprise me. But my information is that they complained."

The Canadian information officer said FIFA always has at least two officials - a match commissary and a security officer - at World Cup qualifying matches and the reminder to Jamaica "that the pitch of your National Stadium must be in good condition for forthcoming World Cup matches", could have been based on reports submitted by the match commissary.

"The field condition is there for everyone to see," Masoudi said.

"FIFA officials were in attendance at previous games in Jamaica and all FIFA representatives are to file a report after each game like crowd behaviour, field condition, hospitality of the host and basically everything that goes into the staging of an international qualifying match," he said.

Warner said: "This whole thing (field complaints) began with El Salvador, when they played the match against you and lost. Many people complained that the field was bumpy and so on.

"I don't think, of course, that moving the game from Jamaica is the answer. I'm convinced that Jamaica can put the field in order in time for the game and I resent very much, very much, the attempt by any country to try to use the field to their advantage.

"In a World Cup match or World Cup qualifying competition, there is home and away and everybody who plays home has an advantage. And they are trying to make Jamaica lose that advantage. It is something I will fight against," said Warner.

Masoudi, however, claims "there is no plot".

"Hearing that people are accusing us of plotting or playing games is laughable. The game is decided on the field of play," he said.