EARLIER this year, there was international uproar over moves to establish a European Super League.
According to the ill-fated proposal that was eventually and sensibly benched, this new league would see a select, privileged group of elite, privately-owned football clubs play among themselves in perpetuity.
That there was a strident global outcry in the middle of a deadly pandemic spoke not only to the enduring appeal of “the beautiful game,” but also the sense that football is about more than just money.
Football is about identity and hope.
It is about the triumph of talent, tenacity, tactics and teamwork, no matter one’s circumstances. Its ethos depends on the sense of jeopardy that the European Super League so crassly jettisoned in favour of a venal idea of built-in profit.
Equally, the game is about its players and fans, particularly at a time in our history when we need to be entertained and to find inspiration to aspire to better and greater things.
In this context, TT’s failure to advance to the second round of the Concacaf qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is not only a new low in our football history, it is a blow that has come at the worst possible time.
The swift dismissal of national team coach Terry Fenwick and his assistants Derek King and Kelvin Jack last Friday, while sending a welcome signal of accountability under the Robert Hadad-led normalisation committee appointed by FIFA, may nonetheless result in further turmoil down the road unless all parties sever ties agreeably.
Mr King and Mr Jack have reportedly settled their terms.
These circumstances are clearly not what Angus Eve, TT’s most capped player who is now interim coach, would have hoped for when he dreamt of being given the chance to be of service to the country by taking on this role. Nonetheless, he has already set the right tone.
“I want to give people a ray of hope and I embrace that opportunity,” Mr Eve said this week.
Getting football back on the right footing will involve both addressing short and long-term issues such as funding, which Mr Hadad suggested played a role in Mr Fenwick getting the sack.
Mr Eve’s most immediate challenge is next month’s qualification round for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
The new coach may not have enough time to make a dent on long-standing issues and recent tensions. But he does bring a wealth of experience from over 100 international appearances for this country as a player.
We have the talent to be better than what we have recently showed. However, what is needed is adequate support alongside a spirit of goodwill which perhaps Mr Eve can help rekindle.