St Lucia footballers demonstrate before SLFA office against withdrawal from World Cup qualifiers

By March 24, 2021

National footballer players in St Lucia demonstrated in front of the St Lucia Football Association (SLFA) headquarters in Castries today against the country’s withdrawal from the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

They also protested the absence of communication between the players and the association and the disrespect shown to the country’s local-based players, who they feel were not even being considered for the qualifiers.

St Lucia was to have played Nicaragua in Nicaragua today in Group E of the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Pushed to the point of frustration, the players marched to the SLFA office in Castries calling for the resignation of SLFA President Lyndon Cooper.

Bearing placards saying ‘Lyndon Cooper must go’, the players are of the view that the SLFA president told FIFA that the pandemic was the primary reason behind the decision to withdraw from the World Cup qualifiers. However, they believe otherwise.

Zaine Pierre, who has been representing his country for about 12 years now, and who believes Cooper has done nothing to improve local football in Lucia since he became president, told media outlets covering that protest that there were indications from last year that they would not be playing.

“These guys had no intention to take part in the World Cup. I remember clearly about a year ago this president was like, ‘the chances of us qualifying is slim and it makes no sense,' so right now Covid is just an excuse for them to pull out,” said Pierre, who said in recent times the national team won two games, drew one and lost another yet the president said that that was not good enough.

Pierre also indicated that the SLFA does not respect local players preferring instead to use those playing in the lower leagues in the United Kingdom for any campaign. It is believed that travel restrictions would have prevented those players from travelling to St Lucia to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers.

Pierre told Sportsmax.TV that the federation did not contact any local clubs seeking the release of their players for training camps despite the fact that some of them had as much as 15 years experience representing the country.

The midfielder, who was also quoted in a story published yesterday on Sportsmax.TV, saying they had heard nothing official from the SLFA regarding the qualifiers, showed Sportsmax.TV a message he said the president sent him afterwards via Whatsapp saying, “Who told u that u was part of St Lucia team and any team was call by the SLFA to be release by their club for national training…”

What is particularly frustrating for Pierre and other locally-based players, is that the SLFA’s decision to withdraw from the qualifiers robs them of the opportunity to play in a World Cup competition when they are in their prime.

“We just need an explanation as to why,” he said.

Police eventually broke up the protests in the early afternoon.

Efforts to contact St Lucia’s Minister of Sport Edmund Estaphane were unsuccessful. Sources indicate that he was off the island on Wednesday.

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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