A number of GAA clubs in the United States of America are facing substantial fines as a result of their decision to not travel to Massachusetts for the annual national finals in August.
20 clubs opted against attending the event, citing their concerns for members health had they made the journey to the hosting venue just outside of Boston.
The USGAA county board had been given notice of the clubs’ decisions in advance of the tournament but have still handed down fines due to their inability to turn up.
Secretary of San Francisco GAA Mike Nash released a statement on Tuesday.
“Despite the pandemic concerns and adequate notice, the USGAA County Board chose to levy nearly $20,000 USD in fines on 20 clubs, and informed the clubs that there would be no hearings or ability to appeal the decision.
“In addition to the monetary penalties, clubs in the Western Division, which includes the San Francisco area, were informed that they would be barred from nominating candidates for board positions at the upcoming Convention, and risked being banned from competing in USGAA events during the 2022 season.
“The 2021 USGAA Finals were held near Boston, Massachusetts in August 2021. During the late summer months, COVID-19 continued to rage through the USA, and over 700,000 died in the preceding eighteen months. With a patchwork of lockdown guidance, and vaccine rates that varied significantly across the 50 states, the US Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities were strongly recommending that people avoid non-essential travel.
“As a result, 20 clubs in the USGAA – including many who would be faced with nearly 6,000 miles of round trip air travel – chose to put a priority on club member safety, and not participate in the annual Finals. These clubs informed the USGAA County Board of their decisions months ahead of the scheduled games.”
Chairperson of the USGAA Western Division Bertie Penny lamented the fact that they are being punished for protecting their players.
“The USGAA Board is punishing clubs for prioritising the health and safety of their members,” said Penny.
“For many clubs on the West Coast, a trip to Boston is the same distance as a Dublin GAA team traveling to New York. It is unacceptable for a volunteer organisation to prioritise revenues over the health, safety and well-being of its members.”