Nurse on Mexico game payout: “Something is better than nothing”
Former Golden Jaguars captain Christopher Nurse is happy that a resolution has come out of the controversial ‘switch’ in the home venue when Guyana clashed with Mexico in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
The highly anticipated fixture, which was slated to occur on local soil at the National Stadium, Providence on October 12, 2012, was controversially switched by the federation to Houston, Texas, USA.
It was initially mooted to be staged at the University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona.
The Golden Jaguars had lost 3-1 to Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in June 2012 in the third round of Concacaf’s qualification process for the biggest prize in football and were due to play a blockbuster home tie as part of the group round-robin in October.
However, the GFF leadership at the time sold the hosting rights for the match, which ultimately took place in Houston, Texas, in October 2012.
Guyana lost 5-0 and finished bottom of the group. At the time, there were claims that the team had been offered a cut of the hosting rights deal, and players have lobbied for recognition since.
On December 10, via a media release, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) stated it has commenced one-off payments of US$500 to national team players and staff assigned to the 2014 FIFA World Cup “home” qualifier against Mexico, following an in-depth, independent investigation into the matter.
Nurse, speaking to News Room Sport, indicated that while the sum is not remotely close to expectations, one is still grateful.
“I think if everybody looks at the magnitude of the occasion with the game versus Mexico and the stage, I think anybody in their right mind who understands the game would realise US$500 is nothing, but something is better than nothing,” he said.
The midfielder revealed there was the possibility of the federation benefiting from around US$500,000 had they operated in a more proactive manner.
“The robbery as such is obviously to the Guyanese public because being able to bring a team like Mexico to Guyana and fill the stadium and bring that atmosphere and experience for the fans, it is something would have been taken away from them.”
“From a business perspective, the figures that were being thrown around at the time, were in excess of US$500,000 that the federation could have capitalised on had things been done in a more proactive and timely fashion. The talking about the game was to be played in a 66,000 seated stadium and given enough time to market the game fully, you could have imagined the amount of revenue that could have generated.”
At the 2019 Congress, the GFF stated an independent investigation into the switched Qualifier did not discover any evidence of criminal misconduct by the then Executive Committee.
“I think the main lesson we can take away from this is that we need better football administration in these circumstances so that Guyana can be a benefactor when the national team succeeds and reach these levels of competition.”
“The money, the kind of investment that could have been put into the infrastructure in Guyana would have been incredible; the local players would not be going through periods where they are very stagnant…we would have had a huge cushion to develop. In the end we reportedly sold the game for a miserly US$75,000 and that’s not very much at all for a game of that magnitude.”
In the grand scheme of things, Nurse said the biggest reward will be seeing the family of former Goalkeeper Colin Edwards being rewarded. The 21-year-old passed away following a motorcycle accident in February 2013.
“…that’s one of the reasons I have been fighting for this because they are players who cannot fight for this anymore and the fact his family will receive some money for his hard work is one of the biggest blessings to come out of this whole thing; that’s the most positive thing for me.”