Thirty dead as Haitian football decimated by earthquake
Haitian football has not escaped the tragedy of last Tuesday's earthquake in the country, with 30 people associated with the Haitian Football Federation and national team confirmed dead by the organisation's president, Dr Jean Bart.
At the request of FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner, a fact-finding mission was organised to discover the extent to which the country's football family had been affected by the disaster.
Captain Horace Burrell, the senior vice-president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), was met by an injured Dr Bart upon arrival in Haiti, with the HFF president revealing that there have been 30 confirmed deaths, while many players, coaches, referees and officials are still missing in the country's capital, Port-au-Prince.
"President Dr Bart confirmed that at least 30 members of the football family have died, with at least 20 still buried in the rubble. He stated also that a number of committee meetings were in progress when the quake struck," Captain Burrell, who also serves as a member of CONCACAF's Executive Committee headed by Warner, said.
"On arrival, we were met by a delegation from the Haitian federation led by an injured president Dr Bart, who was wounded with cuts and bruises all over his body.
"It was evident from the bandages and wounds that he had a miraculous escape, but several others who were with him at a committee meeting were not so lucky and perished within seconds of the earthquake."
The HFF were holding a committee meeting at the time the earthquake hit and Dr Bart is believed to be the only survivor after the three-storey building collapsed.
"Having not visited the facility before, I was shocked when I was told that there were three floors, but now it's just basically a flat mass of block and cement, trapping many who were inside the building at the time of the earthquake," Captain Burrell said.
"The most painful part of my visit was to witness three bodies of our Haitian FF colleagues in a state of partial decomposition and still pinned by heavy concrete.
"Words cannot described what I have seen in Haiti. It is simply heartbreaking. There is an emptiness in this land, which must be filled soon. The country has been engulfed by a sense of hopelessness and despair."
Captain Burrell's findings have been sent in an official report to FIFA and vice-president Warner has been continuing to build a campaign of support for the victims of the earthquake, claiming that $1 million in relief funds has been raised by football's governing thus far.
FIFA itself has committed $250,000, while FIFA vice-president Korean Chung Moon-Jung - a billionaire in his own right thanks to his controlling stake in Hyundai motors - has pledged $500,000 of his own funds. Warner has also donated $100,000 of his personal money.
"The football community stands in solidarity with Haiti," Warner said. "As our brothers and sisters face their darkest hour, we must let them know that they are not alone."