For many years FIFA considered itself bigger than the United Nations. Firstly, they had more members (209 as compared to 193). Secondly, the threat of being banned from football seemed to have countries more willing to co-operate with FIFA than Peace Keeping forces descending on a country usually does for the UN. Just look at the many instances of Jack Warner having various heads of state fawning over him to understand why FIFA held that belief and why they may have genuinely be correct in their opinion. The times they are a-changing though as the FBI has tackled their sovereignty and the empire seems to be crashing down.
Regionally, it seems that the present incarnation of the West Indies Cricket Board share that FIFA-complex in their view of their standing within the Caribbean hierarchy. Being the captain of the West Indies team is sometimes described as similar to being the closest thing to having a President of the West Indies because of the responsibilities faced when representing the region to the rest of the world. So what then does that make the President of the WICB, if the “President of the West Indies” is his employee? This must be the question that plagues the dreams of Dave Cameron at night when he considers his position in the running of the regional team.
Caricom, the political organisation that comprises heads of government within the region has requested an “urgent meeting” with the WICB to discuss recommendations put forward by their Cricket Governance Committee in order to assist in the proper administration of the game. The WICB President has dismissed the request for urgency stating that the meeting has to wait until after the regularly scheduled meeting of the WICB in December along with a pointed reminder that the WICB was a sporting organisation and as such, needed to be “free of interference from governments”. He further emphasised that “International sporting organisations such as the IOC, FIFA and the ICC, are concerned about two major things and that is governance – which has to do with our structures and accountability throughout the organisation – and our autonomy, which means that the organisation and its leadership must be selected free of interference from governments.”
Whereas his point is taken in avoiding interference of the political kind, the response prompted the unlikely alliance of not one, not two, but THREE former presidents of the regional cricket board.
Wes Hall, Patrick Rousseau and Kenneth Gordon, all respected heads of the WICB during different eras issued a joint statement urging Cameron to accede to the request to meet urgently with Caricom Heads. The key issue is that the request was not for the WICB to obey the demands of the Caricom heads which called for restructuring of the WICB Executive, but it was for a discussion to be held regarding recommendations made by the committee. The disregard to a request for a meeting with various Prime Ministers makes me recall the many times that Dave Cameron has been feted by Prime Minister Keith Rowley or Kamla Persad-Bissesar, or even by President Carmona on his trips to Trinidad and Tobago. Oh right, they have not because he doesn’t warrant that kind of attention when he is in the country. Perhaps things are different in Jamaica or Barbados so Cameron has no need to meet with Prime Ministers at their request since he can just demand a meeting when he is ready. It is not like they have anything better to do like actually govern their respective nations.
There is a level of protocol in international relations and generally those who have a title before their name such as “Your Majesty“, “Your Excellency” and even “The Honourable” requests a meeting, you try to make the time unless you are intent on sending a statement of some sort.
Mr. Cameron has been criticised in the past for his high-handed approach to dealing with issues such as the player contracts and not recognising the urgency in meeting with the Indian Cricket board (BCCI) before that tour was abandoned in 2014. Many have said that Cameron is a man who holds a grudge so this may just be comeuppance toward St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves calling him “an embarrassment” and advising him to “take a break and come back at a later date, perhaps with more mature, renewed skills of leadership” in January of this year after Caricom intervened to smoothen relations between the BCCI and the WICB. Whatever the real reason, this seems to be another faux pas on Cameron’s part as it creates a level of controversy and ill-will that is not necessary.
It remains unbelievable that Cameron is not yet aware of how each passing day brings us closer to the dissolution of the West Indies as an entity in terms of cricket, one of the last and dearest things that bind us as a region. Since the retirement of Brian Lara, the West Indies attraction to the other test playing countries has dwindled. With the absence of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard from the test team the options of marketable players is near to zero and the options for improvement look threadbare. Can Cameron be so blinkered that he has not recognised that he can possibly be presiding over the last days of West Indies cricket and that each confrontation tears us further apart? For someone who is supremely confident in his actions despite outside criticism and condemnation, it is inconceivable that he would want to be remembered as the person under whom the West Indian sun finally sets.
The full statement by the Messrs Hall, Rousseau and Gordon is printed below:
"As former Presidents of the WICB we are deeply concerned about recent events which threaten a serious breakdown in the relationship between Caribbean Prime Ministers and the WICB. We have, therefore, decided to make the following statement.
The widespread demand for transparency and accountability coupled with the obvious deterioration in the performances and Governance of West Indies cricket have led to the appointment of 3 independently structured committees over the past 8 years.
The first appointed in 2007 under the Gordon administration of the WICB was the Patterson Committee. The second in 2013 under the Hunte administration was the Wilkin Committee. The third and most recent was appointed some months ago by CARICOM. It was comprised of a very distinguished group of West Indians and Chaired by Eudine Barriteau and included the Chief Justice of the Caribbean Court of Appeal, Sir Dennis Byron and cricketing legend Deryck Murray. That report was published some 2 weeks ago.
The Patterson and Wilken recommendations have been treated with scant courtesy and virtually ignored by the WICB which appointed them. It is also significant that the 3 Reports were unanimous in the view that the structure of the WICB must change following the resignation of the current Directors.
The Chairman of the CARICOM Cricket Governance Committee, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada has called for an urgent meeting with the WICB to discuss the recommendations. The President of the WICB, Mr Cameron, has responded that such discussion can await the next scheduled meeting of the WICB on December 12th, a pointedly discourteous response to CARICOM Leaders who have been supportive of the WICB in so many ways.
You and your Board have erred very badly President Cameron and we publicly call on you to reflect on the unfortunate implications of your response to CARICOM Leaders.
You carry an important trust as President of the WICB. But no individual or transient Board can be bigger than the game and the shaping of its future. Prime Minister Mitchell’s request for an early meeting is eminently reasonable and necessary. We urge that you accede to it so that the consultative process may continue."