Above: Haiti President Michel Martelly and FIFA President
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti’s government and FIFA have agreed to establish a task force to promote the development of football in the Caribbean country.
The move was announced by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, speaking at the Sylvio Cator Stadium during a visit to Haiti Wednesday.
“There is so much talent in the country, and we need to do more to let that talent flourish,” Blatter said. “The will of the Haitian President is there, and we decided together to create a working group with FIFA, CONCACAF, the Haiti FA and the government which by the end of this year should establish a plan to revive Haitian football.”
The group will include members of FIFA, CONCACAF, Haiti’s Football Association and the government.
Blatter was also on hand for the inauguration of the new Haitian Football Association headquarters, which was built with support from a $4 million development fund created after the 2010 earthquake.
That fund has helped with renovations at the stadium and the formation of an under-17 women’s team.
“Today is a defining moment for CONCACAF and for Haiti,” said Jeffrey Webb, president of CONCACAF. “When we join forces with football and the governments, we can obtain more investment for our sport.”
Haiti’s football has already improved significantly at the national level; the team did not qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but the Grenadiers are currently ranked 53rd in the world. Earlier this year, Haiti was ranked 38th in the world, the country’s highest-ever FIFA ranking.
“We love football in Haiti,” Martelly said. “I am a big fan and a former player, and we need to make an effort in our country to put Haitian football back in the top of our region.”
Haiti’s football could get an additional boost this year with the planned groundbreaking of a $5 million, 12,000-seat stadium in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.