Posted: Monday, March 28, 2022. 7:19 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Iris Centeno
By Rubén Morales Iglesias
The Belize Men’s National Football Team (BMNT) played without its top goalkeeper Woodrow West on Sunday against Cuba because the FFB suspended him after a video, which saw him behaving loud and seemingly abusive to a woman, surfaced on social media
The woman in the video is West’s girlfriend but West said he wasn’t fighting with her and that his demeanor was the result of a threat he received at a restaurant near the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, but that he shouldn’t have reacted in the manner he did. He said the incident happened about three weeks ago.
“The video is not what it looks like to people. They just portray that I had a fight with my girlfriend, but I was not fighting with her. I had a problem with two guys at the restaurant and she decided to walk home because she didn’t want us to get into a big thing. It was raining and I ended up taking it out on her because she wanted to walk home in the rain. That was my point-like ‘Let’s go back to the vehicle. We don’t have to go through all of this.”
West said he was ‘vex’ because of the altercation with the two men at the restaurant.
“Yes, I was in a mode of vexation because of the way the guys went on with me. They even threatened to kill me and shoot me, but people just put out the video. The people that put out the video were with those guys. I think it’s the girlfriend of one of the guys or something like that,’ he said.
West acknowledged that his behavior was out of line, but said he is not a man who is violent with women and that he didn’t choke his girlfriend as people are saying.
“I’m not someone that knocks women or that fights with women, or stuff like they are trying to portray. I didn’t choke her. I just held her, I grabbed her around her shoulders and told her ‘Let’s go.’ She was ‘vex’ with me because of my behavior but it’s not like she and I were fighting with each other. I was cursing and stuff like that. That’s not the way to talk but … I mi done deh da ninety, I just didn’t worry about that then, but as my girlfriend says, ‘You know we could have dealt with it differently and it’s true,” he admitted.
As to the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) suspending him for the Belize-Cuba game, West said he understands but it still hurts.
“The suspension is acceptable because I guess I’m a professional athlete and it looks bad for you to behave like that in the streets but I’m dealing with it,” he said, explaining that the Belize Men’s National Team Manager Ian Jones said to him that the Federation has zero-tolerance against violence.
“I felt bad because … I’m not a violent person,” he reiterated while admitting that the situation got worse when the FFB posted on social media that he had been suspended because of the video.
The FFB said that “until an intensive investigation is concluded it was decided that Mr. West will not be allowed to participate in the FIFA friendly against Cuba”. The FFB also said “that it has a zero-tolerance policy against the violence of any kind”.
West said both their families have taken it hard because of what has appeared in the media. To get some peace and tranquility, he said he and his girlfriend got away from the capital during the weekend.
“On my suspension, I took off the two days and went out of Belmopan with my girlfriend to chill a bit and came back this morning (Monday). My girlfriend and I are ok. If people think what happened would have made things worse or whatever, it’s not like that, but I understand the protocol of the Federation. I am not mad with them for the decision they made. I was hurt because I wanted to play, yes, but it is what it is, and life goes on.”
In the meantime, West said he is to meet with officials from the FFB this week.
West has been playing football at the top level for quite a while now and has been the starting goalkeeper for the BMNT since 2013 after the Concacaf Gold Cup when he shared the position with Shane Orio Moody. For three years, he played professionally in Honduras with Honduras Progreso, a team with which he won the Honduran National Championship. Before he left for Honduras, West played for the Belmopan Bandits and since he returned, he has suited up for Verdes, both of whom have been national champions.
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