They are the most successful and highest paid athletes of Haitian descent and known of millions Americans and Canadians. Can you recognize them if you meet them at the mall? Well, if you are a Haitian football fan it is likely that you would struggle to identify Skal Labossiere, Pierre Paul, Adonis Stevenson, Pierre Garcon, and Cromartie. Haiti's most successful athletes are nearly unknown within the football-crazed country.
Haitians love football (soccer) and almost every boy and girl in Haiti is an avid follower of the sport. They can tell you everything you need to know about Lionel Messi, Ronaldo, and some other players non-soccer aficionados might have never heard of. Unfortunately, this love is not reciprocal. Very few Haitian soccer players have managed to make it somewhere near the elite group of the sport. The most successful and best known current player of Haitian descent is probably Jean Sejourne of Chile who has won world level championships with his homeland team. Another recognizable name is Jozy Altidor of USA.
The Haitian national team itself has no recognizable world level players. The most successful players from the group are at best 2nd ranked players playing in Europe and Asia. Jeff Louis, Placide, Alcenat, Guerrier, Genevois, Nazon have decent contracts abroad but they are no superstars and their name recognition is limited to the fan base of their club and the few Haitians who follow them abroad.
Moneywise, there is no comparison between the high earners of the other sports and the ones playing soccer. A 2 million dollar contract over a couple years would be considered a major milestone for most Haitian top earners in soccer. However, this small amount is pocket money for some of the guys in the NFL!
Haiti's one-love for soccer is obviously a loss of opportunity for the youths of the country. Not everyone can be a soccer player. Having more sport options would have certainly helped many young men and girls in the country to pursue success in other sports. Many pioneer athletes have already set the path.
In sports such as boxing, American football, Basketball, and even equestrian the national flag is often raised in triumph by Haitian athletes who are eager to show their national pride. In recent years, the Haitian flag has been raised in boxing world title fights by athletes like Bermane, Adonis, Pascal, Alcine, Berto, and there is a good prospect that it will continue to fly with newcomers like Lubin. In the NFL in USA, there is at least one Haitian finalist in every super bowl for the past few years. The Haitian-American community in Florida is a fertile ground for super athletes and some have climbed to the top of the sport with huge contracts. In basketball, it has become almost natural to see giant Haitian kids like Labossiere and Noel to make their way to the elite clan of the sport commanding multimillion dollar contracts.
When was the last time Haiti won a significant victory over a respectable opponent in soccer? Jwet pou nou!