By Gregory Bryce
“One of the great reasons for the popularity of strikes is that they give the suppressed self a sense of power. For once the human tool knows itself a man, able to stand up and speak a word or strike a blow,” – Charles Cooley.
While it was not as dramatic or philosophical as the quote, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) seemed to have be scrambling about to put out fires. Reports coming out of the Middle East say that there were rising tensions in the Reggae Boyz camp that could have seen the players organizing a strike.
Needless to say, this does not reflect well on the federation which has tried its best to dispel any doubt in its competency after a series of unfortunate events in the recent past.
The Reggae Boyz squad is currently in Saudi Arabia making their preparations for their pair of matches against the host country set for Saturday and Tuesday.
But while the team might be eager to get back out on the pitch after months of inactivity, the organization and planning of the JFF has been found wanting.
The first ‘fire’ came when the agent of much-anticipated debutant Ravel Morrison, lashed out against the JFF publicly, over what he described as a ‘disrespectful’ slight against his player.
“Very disappointed to send this email to the Federation as a fellow Jamaican,” the agent, Daniel Wilson, wrote. “Ravel has taken his seat on the plane, and it’s not business class as stated. It’s economy. It’s disrespectful to Ravel as he and myself have been told one thing, and it’s a lie.”
The situation, according to Wilson, had put a big damper on Morrison’s enthusiasm for representing the country and threatened that should the issue not be resolved, this may be the first and last time that the player dons the black, green and gold.
“If this is how the federation acts, he won’t be returning to play for Jamaica. See that his return flight is upgraded, and I want the confirmation sent to me as now, I listen to no words from the JFF,” he said. “This is not how the start of him playing for Jamaica should be, on a negative.”
The situation seemed to have been resolved, however, with Morrison posting a picture on his Instagram story wearing the training gears of the national team. Team manager, Roy Simpson, also confirmed that the issue has been resolved.
The next set of fires that the JFF had to quickly put out was the issue of players threatening to boycott the matches if their wage demands were not met.
The JFF, in the recent past, has been embroiled with many altercations revolving around wage demands. The most prominent was the Reggae Girlz’ case where they were not paid after representing the country at the France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The girls were eventually given their pay further down the line.
This time around, the Boyz proposed that they be paid USD$2,000 for each match. The JFF, however, made plans to only pay 50% of that amount.
I’m not someone who has access to the JFF’s cheque book, so I can’t truly judge whether the funds are available to make the payment. But surely, the JFF should have made plans to cover the players’ wages before they flew off to Saudi Arabia.
Eventually, the matter was resolved with the federation agreeing to pay the players the amount they had demanded.
Now, it is simply a matter of trying to find the right players to field among the number of positive COVID-19 test results that have cropped up in the camp.
Out of the frying-pan, and into the fire for the JFF!
Gregory Bryce is a freelance sports journalist.
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