By Gregory Bryce
It’s a case of the same old song and dance for the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) as there seems to be a continued trend of financial disputes between the JFF and the Reggae Boyz.
It has been almost two months since the Boyz played against Saudi Arabia in a pair of international friendlies (recording a loss and a win) but the entire arrangement had almost fallen into disarray after the JFF had refused to meet the pay demands of the players.
In a leaked phone call between defender Damion Lowe, JFF president Michael Ricketts, General Secretary Dalton Wint, Vice-President Bruce Gaynor and team captain Roy Simpson, Lowe is heard negotiating for the agreement in pay for the players to take part in the matches that would have been played back in November.
The 20-minute voice recording of the meeting shows a deplorable side to the officials in charge of the JFF, and has caused public backlash against the JFF officials involved in the meeting.
Lowe, speaking on the behalf of the team, is discontent with the amount being offered by the JFF, and the call soon falls into a heated argument as he stood firm in the players’ demands.
The JFF had originally offered a sum of US$1,000 (JMD$143,000) per match which was refused by the team. The players had instead, put forward a suggestion of US$2,500 (JMD$358,000) per match which was rejected by the JFF.
To compromise, the team reduced their demands to US$2000 ($287,000) but still faced disgruntled objections from the JFF’s top brass which claimed that it was simply not possible to pay the players that sum.
“All of us have one voice and one view. Whatever is talked about with unnuh, everybody knows about it. It’s not like it’s just me you’re talking to, I’m talking on behalf of the whole team,” Lowe said in the recording. “Honestly though, I’m telling you straight, the players won’t travel for US$1000.”
Throughout the call, it became abundantly clear that the JFF did not intend to pay the players their due amount, and sought to capitalize on and take advantage of the players’ talents.
It paints the country’s football hierarchy in a bad light, and calls into question the competency and the integrity of the individuals in charge of Jamaica’s football governing body.
The fact is that this is not the first – nor will it be the last time, if the trend continues – that the JFF is being blasted over a financial dispute.
The case of the Reggae Girlz’ repeated public altercations with the JFF comes to mind.
The Girlz made history when they qualified for the 2019 France Women’s World Cup – and their achievement was made even more impressive when they achieved this with little to no financial support from the JFF.
From having to wear second-hand jerseys, the team staff rushing to buy winter coats and gloves because the Girlz were unprepared for the cold winter and the coach Hue Menzies volunteering his time to train the team, the journey to the Women’s World Cup was done without much help from the JFF.
But when the time came for the JFF to step up and compensate the Girlz, they were extremely hesitant to do so.
In truth, the entire situation has revealed some of the glaring problems that exist within the country’s football system.
On one hand, the JFF claims that they are taking all the steps necessary to ensure that the country can achieve a higher level of football, and they regularly speak about recruiting world-class players to represent the country.
Yet at the same time, it is becoming abundantly clear that they are not putting in the investment needed to achieve those dreams, and the promises and plans of action being made are simply not worth the paper they are printed on.
They claimed they were in the process of recruiting Manchester United’s wonderkid Mason Greenwood to don the black, green and gold before he had gotten the England call up. But can you seriously see Greenwood, who is considered a generational talent, being caught up in a contractual dispute for US$2000?
“You feel is a patty shop we running?” were the words of Vice President Bruce Gaynor in the recording, and based on the current situation, it would seem so.
The JFF wants to grow a forest and reap all the benefits, yet are unwilling to plant the seeds.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance sports journalist.
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