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Webb: Caribbean pro league can boost WCup chances

October 22, 2013

Caribbean football could get a regional professional league to help its countries qualify for the World Cup.

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb said Tuesday he will appoint an expert group this week to study options for a league, after Jamaica fell well short of advancing to the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

“We have so much talent in the region and the game needs a professional league and a professional approach,” Webb told reporters in a conference call during CONCACAF meetings in his native Cayman Islands.

Among English-speaking Caribbean countries, only Jamaica (1998) and Trinidad & Tobago (2006) have ever qualified for a World Cup, Webb lamented.

“Let’s not make it another 100 years that perhaps we get (only) this level of success,” the FIFA Vice President said.

Webb is hosting a summit to share ideas for developing the game in his member countries, attended Tuesday by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Keynote speakers include FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, and senior English Premier League official Nic Coward.

“We will name a commission, a task force, at the end of the summit to start working on this,” Webb said of the Caribbean league project. “We also need support of governments.”

Setting no timetable, Webb said more information was needed about finances, creating team franchises and a league format.

CONCACAF will be represented in Brazil by the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras, which secured the three World Cup places guaranteed to CONCACAF’s 35 FIFA member countries. Mexico can be a fourth qualifier if it beats New Zealand in a home-and-away playoff next month.

Jamaica placed last in the final six-team qualifying group which was completed last week.

Webb has also targeted helping CONCACAF members by creating a technical and coaching center for the regional body, which relocated from New York City to Miami in the turmoil following a FIFA bribery scandal that toppled his predecessor Jack Warner in 2011.

Warner still has possession of a $22.5 million center of excellence in his native Trinidad — named after disgraced former FIFA President Joao Havelange — which CONCACAF thought it owned.

Webb described legal wrangling between CONCACAF and Warner as “an ongoing dispute.”

“What we are doing instead of having any central location, we are utilizing various member associations’ facilities,” Webb said. “A center is very important for the region.”

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