The Haitian Times
Bridging the gap
Ladies and Gentlemen of FIFA:
There is a lack of reciprocity of travel benefits among countries, with some passport holders enjoying better benefits than others. For example, an American passport may allow United States citizens to enter Haiti without a visa, but the Haitian passport does not allow Haitians to enter the U.S. without a visa.
The CAVALY A.S. of Leogane suffered the negative impacts of such a diplomatic disparity. The soccer team did not secure an appointment to obtain the necessary American visitors visa that would have allowed its players to come to the USA to participate in the prestigious League of Champions sporting event. According to the American Consulate, passport services at the US Embassy in Haiti were closed due to the rise of COVID-19 in the United States. That action humiliated the sports and the Haitian government.
The Red Horse players believe that the United States judges and punishes them according to the color of their skin and the poverty level of their country. Rather, I know that it is the diplomatic relations between Haiti and the United States that caused such damage to the Haitian sports. If the Haitian passport did not require Haitians to have an American visa to enter the U.S., the closure of the immigration services of the American consulate would not have prevented the CAVALY A.S. players from going to represent their country in Massachusetts.
The reverse would have been different if it were the players of the American team that had to come to Haiti to face El Satan, since their American passport allows them to come to Haiti without a visa. If the Dominican Republic and European countries decide to close their passport services in Haiti, no grenadier would go to Santo Domingo and Europe to defend and protect the Haitian flag.
To this effect, without circumventing the specific laws relating to immigration, more particularly that of visa issuance, I ask that FIFA, through its federations and confederations, intervenes to request that the countries, of which their federation is a member, eliminate the criterion of obtaining a visa for football clubs and associations that must travel to participate in international tournaments and championships.
I urge FIFA to intervene to influence this principle of inequality between passports so that no other sports association in the world, whose passport requires a visa to go to specific countries, no longer has to go through the agonizing, stressful, demanding and complex visa application. Subjecting sports associations to this process is more than a punishment and, in many instances, a quest to find a needle in Medusa’s hair, despite all due diligence by the team leadership and sponsors.
I firmly believe that the elimination of these criteria will give association leaders more time to focus their energy on the mental capacity and physical readiness of the players instead of filing immigration dossiers without them having the formal guarantee that their efforts would not be in vain.
I am not asking that FIFA become a consulate or an immigration agency. I am asking rather, while waiting for the Haitian passport to accumulate the necessary value to allow Haitians to visit American countries and that of other continents without a visa, that FIFA addresses the countries whose soccer federations are members to ask them to eliminate visa requirements for players traveling as a team.
I fervently believe that soccer players, any other athlete for that matter, are representatives of their country and deserve to be treated as such. I assure you in the meantime that I am not a sports fanatic. Removing the visa criteria would be good-sense policy, global logic and a universal reason. It would provide the same opportunities to all soccer teams that qualify to perform on the international stage.
Conscious that FIFA has the necessary influence to include this action item on the agenda of its next international summit of its federations and confederations, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to receive my most distinguished salutations.
Bobb Rousseau holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Public Policy with specializations in Public Law and Managing Local Government. Dr. Rousseau firmly believes that the Haitian diaspora in the United States is at a prime stage to build an attractive political force that can shift U.S. immigration, diplomacy, and humanitarian aid to Haiti and to advance the Haitian agenda around the world.
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by Bobb Rousseau, The Haitian Times
February 25, 2022
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