Sports — 11 April 2014

Football juggle, Freedom Fighters put their foot down on “disrespect,” game vs Bandits re-scheduled to Friday

Not too long ago, when Belize star striker Deon McCaulay was pressing for his release from the Belmopan Bandits FC in order to secure a contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks FC, Bandits owner Hon. John Saldivar expressed strong disapproval at the way his club was being treated in the matter by the foreign club, calling it “disrespectful.”

Well, from reports we received this week, it seems the Paradise/Freedom Fighters club of Punta Gorda, Toledo, perceived a similar measure of “disrespect” in the treatment they received in the rescheduling of their game with Belmopan Bandits FC which was originally set for Saturday, April 12, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium.

In its Monday release giving the weekly game report and schedule, the Premier League secretariat quite casually included a Wednesday night date for the Freedom Fighters vs Bandits game. When we inquired, the PLB said the date change from Saturday to Wednesday was to accommodate an invitational match the Bandits had arranged with the Houston Hurricanes of the U.S. on Saturday at the Isidoro Beaton. Bandits manager Kenneth Budna confirmed this when we contacted him, and said the arrangements had just been finalized.

Well, P.G. was not happy, to put it mildly. Correspondence from Freedom Fighters manager Clifford King and personal contact with owner Patrick Flores indicated that the Punta Gorda franchise was incensed with the level of “disrespect” shown to them by the PLB/FFB and the Belmopan Bandits franchise, in arbitrarily changing the date for their scheduled match. The bottom line is that Paradise/Freedom Fighters refused to accept the Wednesday night date.

After some discussion and negotiation, a compromise was reportedly worked out between the Freedom Fighters and Belmopan Bandits managements. And a PLB release yesterday, April 9, said simply that “the game between the Belmopan Bandits and the Paradise/Freedom Fighters Football Club will now be played on Friday, April 11, 2014 at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium at 8:00 p.m.”

Below is a portion of a diplomatic email sent yesterday, after an agreement was reached, by Freedom Fighters manager Clifford King to FFB General Secretary Michael Blease, copied to PLB owners and made available to our sports desk:

“Although, we had expressed our disappointment with the way your Office and the Management of the Bandits had original approached this matter, we decided to act in good faith on the premise that the Bandits support our efforts to compromise – this has been achieved.

“Additionally, we do agree that Belizean football do need as much international exposure as possible.

“It is also our fervent hope that all Club managements and in particular the FFB and the PLB recognize that it is important that we always do the right things in the right way.

“We wish the Bandits the best in their friendly against the Houston Hurricanes.”

The PLB Week 9 schedule therefore now includes an international Friendly on Saturday between the Bandits and the Houston Hurricanes.

Revised Week 9 schedule:

Friday, April 11
8:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs Paradise/Freedom Fighters – Isidoro Beaton Stadium

Saturday, April 12
7:30 p.m. – Belize Defence Force FC vs Verdes FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs Houston Hurricanes FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium

Sunday, April 13
4:00 p.m. – FC Belize vs Police United FC – MCC Grounds

(San Ignacio United FC is resting)

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