By Gregory Bryce
The administrative matters of our local football governing bodies are not highlighted much in the media, and as a result, not many are truly aware of the structure and hierarchy of the footballing system.
To the casual fan, it is the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) that has all the power and all the ‘say’ in regards to our local competitions, and it would appear that way since it is the JFF that seems to garner all the media attention.
However, behind the scenes, it is a collection of the various parish football associations (FAs) that are given voting rights in the major decision making process.
For those who might not be in the know, within the Jamaican football system, there are 13 parish FAs representing the 14 parishes – because Kingston and St. Andrew are represented by one FA.
As such, it is these various FAs that have voting power in our football constitution.
However, recent plans to change the voting delegates were discussed last year that would allow for more voices involved in our football system to be heard.
These proposed changes, would see an increase from 13 votes to 45. This would facilitate each parish FA receiving two votes to make up a majority 26 out of 45. The remaining votes would be giving to the 12 Premier League teams and other stakeholders such as the referee’s association, the player’s association, the women’s football association, ISSA and Intercol, and others.
Those plans were then changed to increase the number of votes to 71 in total. This would mean that three votes would be allocated to the individual parish FAs, while the 12 Premier League teams would be given two votes each. The remaining aforementioned stakeholders would be given a single vote each.
Yet, despite an agreement being reached by the parish FAs about this new voting structure, these were not the details sent to FIFA.
According to the reports, the JFF had decided to change the proposals yet again, this time choosing to have 60 votes in total, with the parish FAs and the 12 Premier League clubs receiving two votes each, while the remaining stakeholders getting a single vote each.
A decision which has not gone down well with the various presidents of the parish FAs.
“The document that was supposed to be sent to FIFA was 45 (votes). They said they changed it to 71 (votes), and we agreed on 71,” Danny Beckford, the president of the St. Ann FA told The Gleaner. “Only to see the media saying that it is two for the parishes and two for the clubs. How can a parish association and a club have the same two votes? Don’t you see there is something wrong?”
Along with Beckford is Wayne Shaw, the president of the Kingston & St. Andrew Football Association (KSAFA), who feels it is a matter of disrespect that the changes were made without the approval of the FAs.
“We haven’t received the document, and we have requested it how long. We have been requesting it verbally since last year. We sent a letter three weeks ago and another one on Sunday, and we haven’t even received a reply,” Shaw said. “It is a disrespect that the board members have not seen the document that was sent to FIFA. Complete disrespect. Why is it that the board members cannot see it and they should approve the document that is going off?” added Shaw.
But while the changes are not yet finalized and will be negotiated further as protocol, it does seem, in my opinion, a poor decision to change the details of the proposals without the knowledge of the FAs.
If the JFF had indeed seen some weakness in what was agreed upon throughout the negotiations last year, this should have been brought to the attention of all the parties involved in the negotiations, to try to find a solution that everyone could find solace in. Wayne Thompson, president of the St. Thomas FA, was not too concerned about the changes, citing that despite the JFF sending a completely new proposal to FIFA, no plans can be put in place without the approval of the FA, and that the negotiation process has not yet ended.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance sports journalist.
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