Webb wants all levels to rise

Whenever a World Cup comes around,
there is inevitably an increase in football being played and watched and money
generated. Irrespective of the recent tournament in South Africa, Cayman’s
football scene has been flourishing since Hurricane Ivan decimated the sport
here in 2004.

The fact that every district now
has an international class stadium also helps. At all levels of the game,
people are enjoying playing. Sunday league and five-a-side football have more
participants than ever in Cayman.

Jeffrey Webb, president of the
Cayman Islands Football Association, is pleased to see such mass participation.
Webb was a match commissioner for the FIFA delegation in South Africa and he is
also vice chairman of the FIFA Internal Committee.

“This is tremendous,” he said. “It
also shows the power of football, not only from a competition standpoint in
terms of Premier League, but also from a recreational aspect too. It just goes
to show the power and love Cayman has for the game and the community spirit it
generates.

“We are working with these leagues
and are ensuring that they are all sanctioned by CIFA and they all come in line
with our statutes and rules and regulations. We want to encourage it and
support it because it is also great for the country as a whole when it comes to
health, recreation and giving people the opportunity for exercise.”

Webb is going to ensure that
players banned from playing in 11-a-side leagues don’t sneak in and play in the
Sunday games, where they think they are immune from bans. “Anyone who is banned
from football is banned throughout our football leagues.”

Webb is pleased with five-a-side
football’s growth here, and even watched some Nations Cup tournament games put
on by King’s Sports Centre director Ray Singh earlier this year. “Rex Ebanks
(King’s owner), Ray and his staff are doing a tremendous job in developing the
game. It is a great accomplishment that thousands of people here are playing
football every day. The game is fun. Small pitch, exciting and it’s good
exercise for top players when they’re out of season and keep their sharpness.”

Honduras in the World Cup lost
their first two games and tied their last one with Switzerland. Webb thinks
Honduras will get stronger because they are a young team. “They did well
considering they were so young. From a CONCACAF standpoint we were very pleased
with all three of our teams; USA, Mexico and Honduras. I think Honduras will
definitely be favourites to qualify again for the next World Cup tournament in
Brazil in 2014.”

For many English-speaking people in
the Caribbean it was sad not to see Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica not
competing in South Africa, and Webb hopes they will get adequate support to
make that happen next time.

“When countries qualify for the
World Cup they get tremendous government support. When Trinidad & Tobago
qualified for Germany 2006, their government spent close to $30 million and
Jamaica too when they qualified for France 1998.

“I think Trinidad will change now
that Jack Warner (FIFA vice-president) is in the ruling party and they will be
in the reckoning for the next World Cup.”

FIFA made over $2 billion profit
from the recent World Cup, but few realise that over 90 per cent of their
revenue comes from this tournament and many other FIFA tournaments are ‘loss
leaders’. They only break even or lose money on other events like World Cup
tournaments for women and youths. There is also substantial funding around the
globe for development programmes for small countries like the Cayman Islands
without any hope of recouping their output.

“Everything is generated from the
World Cup,” Webb says. “That is our crown jewel. In recognition of that we’ve
tried to put FIFA on a better financial footing and built up $1.2 billion in
reserves which, of course, is for situations like if the World Cup cannot take
place in a pandemic outbreak or a world war starts. Then FIFA can at least
continue at the level it is doing now.”

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