Photo: (Front row from left to right) Vice President of the Football League of Martinique, Maurice Victoire; FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President, Jeffrey Webb; President of the Regional Council of Martinique, Serge Letchimy; President of the Football League of Martinique, Samuel Pereau; and President of the Sports Commission of Martinique, Thierry Fondelot.
President Jeffrey Webb hosts meeting with French Caribbean islands for full member integration to the CONCACAF region
Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and French Guyana reiterate their intention to become full Member Associations
FORT DE FRANCE, Martinique - With the aim of fully integrating the Caribbean region culturally and economically through football, FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President, Jeffrey Webb, hosted a meeting on January 29 with representatives from the French Caribbean associations, government authorities, and the French Football Federation.
Representatives from the football leagues of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and French Guyana reinforced their interest with becoming full members of the Confederation, with all rights and privileges, which would allow them, among other things, to participate in official regional and international competitions. Applications for membership will be submitted to the CONCACAF Executive Committee in the near future and, upon approval by this committee, will be submitted to the CONCACAF congress in Panama City on April 19, 2013, for ratification.
"We are very pleased with the passion, commitment and resilience that have been expressed by the four islands, and we intend to welcome them into our football family," said Webb. "In the best interest of the game and of developing the region, these countries can rest assured that they have CONCACAF's full support."
"The complete integration into CONCACAF would signify great recognition of our territories and a contribution towards the growth of our competitions. You have our determination and commitment that, through football, we will try to extend this fraternity as far as we can," said President of the Regional Council of Martinique, Serge Letchimy.
A discussion regarding the islands' full integration into CONCACAF started in May 2012, at the CONCACAF Congress in Budapest, Hungary. Since that time, conversations continued with various stakeholders.
"This great gathering organized by CONCACAF will surely mark an historic milestone, as we are looking forward to participating in international football," expressed President of the Football League of Martinique, Samuel Pereau. "This represents a new stage that will lead us to a fresh institutional future through obtaining full membership status into CONCACAF. The context is definitely favorable. We thank President Webb for his visionary work and as a gathering force and mediator."
The discussions also included Thomas Coyol, Head of Sports Regulations and Litigations Department, and Alain Casteran, Head of International Relations, who represented the French Football Federation (FFF). Mr. Coyol expressed the FFF's willingness to assist with the process.
This is the fourth meeting among the national associations and members of the regional governing body to establish the best course of action for the islands' long-awaited full membership. Officials from the different islands extended their respects to Webb's commitment to the Caribbean region and reiterated their firm intention of fulfilling this long-awaited vision of integration.
"This aim of fully participating in the region is not only economic. Through sports, we have the possibility to integrate our communities," said President of the Sports Commission in Guadeloupe, Jocelyne Sapotille. "It is also of great value for France to have us integrated into the CONCACAF region, as it is our intention to make French football shine through our Caribbean experience."
"Tonight, we are in front of a white pearl. The presence of the FFF alongside CONCACAF in support of this incorporation proves that things have changed. We are integrating and are eager to participate in the evolution of football" stated Delegate for Sport Affairs in Guyana, Jean-Claude Labrador.
"The French Antilles has for decades aimed to be part of the region. The success of our national teams has demonstrated our rightful place within the regional football family," said President of the Football League of Guadeloupe, Joseph Sene. "During last year's congress in Budapest, you have promised to manifest our dream of integration. We proudly respect your word and assure you we will further work to make this happen."
"I always wanted to participate in an international football team. My whole career and life developed thanks to fulfilling a dream through this sport. Today, we should think of our youth. Today, I celebrate football and only football," voiced Vice President of the French Guyana Football League and football legend, Bernard Lama.
Webb concluded by acknowledging the recent achievement of Martinique's national team: "Special congratulations are due to Martinique for having qualified to the 2013 Gold Cup, taking place July 7-28 in the United States. You are integrating into the elite of Caribbean football. This will provide hope, aspiration and opportunity to the next generation."