Mussenden: game does not have a gang problem

  • Pressing forward: TiaeVince Douglas, the Boulevard striker, races past Peskett at Police Field during one of only three matches played yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Pressing forward: TiaeVince Douglas, the Boulevard striker, races past Peskett at Police Field during one of only three matches played yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)


BFA statement in full

The BFA had a full slate of matches scheduled for Sunday. The BFA was contacted early Saturday morning by the BPS who recommended that as a result of the fatal shooting on Friday night that we postpone some games.

We were relunctant to do so but we value our working relationship with the BPS and we generally heed their advice. In particular we were concerned about any media or public assumption that there was a connection between the incident and football.

We inquiried on the reasons for the recommendation and we were told as follows:

1) The BPS was in the process of investigating the shooting and alot of their manpower was dedicated to that effort. Consequently, the BPS could not provide their routine coverage to sports events such as football.

2) BPS could not advise when they would release the crime scene. This put a question mark on the viability of matches at Southampton Oval.

3) BPS were engaged in personal security for the Duchess of Gloucester? and subsequently could not provide the necessary coverage for sporting events.

As a result we accepted the BPS recommendation.

The BFA provides organised football from September to April to thousands of registered players of 20 affiliates and several other clubs. Football takes place at over 10 fields with club officials in attendance to provide a safe environment for players and spectators alike.

The shooting was tragic and we, like all responsible citizens, wished it had never happened. We offer our condolences to the familiy and friends of the deceased, who was a registered player with the BFA belonging to Southampton Rangers club and team.

However, we are not aware of any connection of this incident to football, a team or member club. The BFA has an official written Anti-Social Behaviour policy which mandates that players give permission for police vetting, clubs to vet their players and remove any who have breached the policy by any conduct whatsoever in the wider community and courts. Additionally, we have a committee that oversees the policy and has the authority to ban any players in breach of the policy. We have taken a tough stance over the years and all players and clubs know that it is a privilege to play football and not a right. We will not hesitate to ban anyone from playing football.

We are happy to release the policy to the media and public. We refute the suggestion that there is a significant or any gang problem in football. Unfortunately, if a person wants to break the law anywhere, be it using cocaine at or after work, stealing, money-laundering, or shooting someone, then no amount of laws or policies are likely to stop them. However, once the breach is committed then we can act.

The BFA will continue to play its part on providing football activity and development to the community, some 3 million hours annually. We will stand tall and proud with right thinking members of the community, our Affiliates, the Bermuda Government and the BPS. Together, we will never let the criminal actions of a few miscreants spoil the beautiful game.

We encourage anyone with information, no matter how insignificant they may think it is, to report it to the BPS or to Crimestoppers.

Larry Mussenden, the Bermuda Football Association president, has denied any suggestion that there is a “gang problem” in football in the wake of the fatal shooting at Southampton Rangers Sports Club.

Rickai Swan, 26 was shot dead when a gunman opened fire outside the front of the building on Friday night, with the BFA, on police recommendation, postponing several of yesterday’s Premier Division and First Division fixtures.

Swan was registered as a player with Southampton Rangers.

The BFA was initially reluctant to heed the advice of the police, said Mussenden, who admitted he was concerned that people would wrongly assume the incident and local football were linked in any way.

He said the BFA were told that police could not offer the necessary support for the matches because of the manpower dedicated to the murder investigation, as well providing security for the Duchess of Gloucester, who is visiting the Island to celebrate the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s 50th anniversary.

“We were reluctant to [postpone the matches] but we value our working relationship with the Bermuda Police Service and we generally heed their advice,” Mussenden said.

“We are not aware of any connection of this incident to football, a team or member club.

“We refute the suggestion that there is a significant or any gang problem in football.

“The shooting was tragic and we, like all responsible citizens, wished it had never happened. We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.”

Mussenden said the BFA, whose Executive Council held an emergency meeting on Saturday night, was committed to stamping out antisocial behaviour from Bermudian football.

“The BFA has an official written antisocial behaviour policy which mandates that players give permission for police vetting, clubs to vet their players and remove any who have breached the policy by any conduct whatsoever in the wider community and courts,” he said.

“Additionally, we have a committee that oversees the policy and has the authority to ban any players in breach of the policy.

“We have taken a tough stance over the years and all players and clubs know that it is a privilege to play football and not a right.

“We will not hesitate to ban anyone from playing football. Together, we will never let the criminal actions of a few miscreants spoil ‘the beautiful game’.”

The Bermuda Police Service praised the BFA’s decision as “entirely appropriate and prudent for the circumstances”.

The five games postponed were Somerset Trojans v Dandy Town at Somerset Cricket Club, Southampton Rangers v Devonshire Colts at Southampton Oval, Paget Lions v Flanagan’s Onions at Southampton Oval, Ireland Island Rangers v St David’s at Malabar Field and Somerset Eagles vs BAA at White Hill Field.

Last season the BFA postponed all matches during the weekend of November 15 to 16, from Premier Division to under-16, after two shootings on Remembrance Day — at the National Sports Centre and Somerset Cricket Club — resulted in four people being injured.

Among the three matches that were played yesterday was Robin Hood’s 2-0 win against Boulevard at Police Field.

Both sides were reduced to ten men, with Jokia Williams dismissed early in the first half for Boulevard, while Nathan Peskett received his marching orders for a second bookable offence late on for Hood.

“I feel for the other teams that didn’t play because of the unfortunate circumstances, as they had prepared all week,” Kyle Lightbourne, the Hood coach, said.

“That can swing momentum in different directions some times. Other teams will have games in hand on us now, but we just have to take care of ourselves.”

Richard Todd, the North Village coach, expressed his relief after his team beat Hamilton Parish for their first win of the season at Bernard Park.

“It was an important win, just to take some of the pressure off,” Todd said. “We haven’t been playing badly, but there was a lapse with the early goal we gave up.

“Hopefully, with us jumping up the table, we can get the players to relax a bit.”

In yesterday’s First Division match, Young Men’s Social Club beat St George’s 2-0 at Wellington Oval.

Clay Darrell broke the deadlock in the 80th minute from the penalty spot and Raymond Burgess added the second five minutes later.

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Published Oct 26, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 26, 2015 at 1:42 pm)

Mussenden: game does not have a gang problem

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