Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2022. 3:45 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Verdes FC
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Verdes said the PLB Organizing Committee’s decision on when and where the second leg of the PLB Finals should be played must be abided by and that if Altitude decide not to play in Belmopan, that is their prerogative.
After the match was called off last Saturday because the Michael Ashcroft Stadium in Independence was too wet, both teams’ general managers were unable to agree on when to play the match. The PLB Organizing Committee met and on Tuesday scheduled the match for tonight Thursday in Independence and added that if it couldn’t be played because of a similar situation as last Saturday, that it would then have to be played on Sunday at the FFB Field in Belmopan.
Verdes General Manager Lorin Frazer said that all PLB teams had to sign a participation agreement under which all teams agree to adhere to the tournament regulations and procedures.
“We can’t dictate to nobody because the decision doesn’t suit me,” said Frazer in reference to the Altitude statement that if the match is scheduled for Belmopan, in case it cannot be played tonight in Independence/Mango Creek, that they will not play.
“That is their purview. Whatever decision is made today, wherever the game is to be played if it’s tonight or Sunday my team will be there ready to play. If they choose not to go to any venue or so, that is their purview,” he said.
“I respect the fact, yes, that they earned the number one seed. The interest was to complete the game on their home field.”
But the match was called off last Saturday as heavy rains not only delayed the game from starting at 7:30 pm but also caused its postponement because the field was water laden.
Frazer said he told Altitude General Manager Jordan Zabaneh that they should play on Monday or Tuesday because the weather forecasts said those were the better days weather wise. He said the forecasts called for rain in Mango Creek all the way up to Sunday-Monday. Zabaneh differs in saying the forecasts say the weather will clear up for Friday and Saturday. He also said that his team would rather play on Saturday because the Altitude fans deserve to see their team and that a midweek wasn’t good for them to attend.
“They are adamant about playing on Saturday,” Frazer said, adding that now it’s not about making more money.
“The business part of the finals is already over. Verdes had a home game where they made some income off the home gate. Altitude also had that opportunity and made a whopping home gate on Saturday night. With that said, it’s now about crowning a champion,” he said.
Initially, Zabaneh said the game could have been played last Saturday because they had played under similar conditions at the Norman Broaster Stadium in Cayo.
Frazer said that such was not the case and that those who were present and those who saw the game on television can attest to that because no water was seen splashing during the game. He added that the Michael Ashcroft Stadium was quite wet.
“I would say at least two-thirds of the surface of that field was under water. I didn’t make the decision. The decision was made by the professionals, or the persons tasked with that job, who were the match officials at the time and the match commissioner,” Frazer said.
The Verdes GM said the officials made three assessments; one in the late afternoon when they arrived, one at about 7:00 pm when the match was delayed for an 8:30 pm start, and the final one at 8:30 pm.
Frazer said from Monday he wrote a letter to the Chair of the Organizing Committee since in the regulations they are the ones tasked with resolving cases of force majeure which in this case was the bad weather which contributed to the poor field conditions on Saturday.
“I wrote a letter because I saw the urgency,” he said.
That’s when he suggested to Altitude that they play on Monday or Tuesday but said that Altitude would have none of it and that since they couldn’t agree, the PLB Organizing Committee then made the decision to play tonight in Independence or Sunday in Belmopan.
Altitude responded with a statement in which they said that they deserve to play at home, and that if the game can’t be played tonight, that they should play on Saturday in Independence and not Sunday in Belmopan.
“We would like to make it very clear; Altitude will not be playing its home game in Belmopan. This final game was not given to us on a charity basis, it was earned, it was fought for – against officials, against the media and against general expectations!” said Altitude.
Altitude said the PLB’s Organizing Committee’s decision favours Verdes. Frazer countered saying that is not the case and that he would not question the Organizing Committee’s integrity.
“The whole point is that we could not dictate to the tournament organizers,” Frazer said.
“I remind you that in 2020 when we had the Covid outbreak in our team, the Scotiabank Concacaf League, we could not dictate to the Concacaf Tournament Organizers that we still have 18 players active that did not test positive, and we could have fielded a team [against Haitian team Arcahaie in the Dominican Republic]. We could not dictate to them what, when, and where the match would be played. We could not tell the tournament organizers you better find a suitable date to suit us.”
Frazer said that Verdes had to forfeit the game because they couldn’t afford to finance their stay in the Dominican Republic for two more weeks. If they could have, he said, that they would have played, just like they intend to do now in Mango Creek tonight or in Belmopan on Sunday.
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