Five Jamaican referees have been selected to officiate at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup starting July 10 in the United States.

Reggae Boyz manager Roy Simpson is to meet with representatives with midfielder Ravel Morrison after the player’s recent departure from Dutch club ADO Den Haag by mutual consent.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) has signed a historic Memorandum of Strategic Alliance with World Eleven Inc./Argentina Football Association (AFA) with a goal to exploit advantages offered by the AFA’s Technology Institute and develop the sport of football in this country in every facet.

A first between World Eleven and a Caribbean country, the Memorandum of Understanding, in the first instalment, will last for 10 years.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, all parties to the agreement were not present at the JOA’s Olympic Manor headquarters in Kingston and the AFA in Argentina. Hence, the signing - streamed live from both locations - was effected under unique circumstances with pre-signed documentation uploaded to either party, who counter signed simultaneously to signal a done deal.

JOA President Christopher Samuda and Ryan Foster, Secretary General/CEO, signed on behalf of the JOA, while President of World Eleven Guillermo Tofoni signed on behalf of the World Eleven/AFA partners.

Under the memorandum, AFA Technology Institute will be marketed in Jamaica even as it develops local talent and helping it transition to the international stages of the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup.

“The JOA consciously understands this culture of success which impels us to establish enabling partnerships and which has led us, with the facilitation of the Ambassador (Argentina), to World Eleven, an experienced Argentine football outfit engaged in the business of exporting the AFA football technology, which marries the teaching of practical and technical skills with a customized software that hosts E-learning, evolution and coach grading methodologies,” said Samuda.  

“We have to transition the game to a level where physical analytics, physical kinetics, long-term athlete development concepts and technical learning become the basis on which talent is developed, sustained and matriculated.

“So, as the JOA looks in earnest on a historic qualification of our male and female teams at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the 11 men and women on the field of play at the Olympiad and the World Cup must be products of a transformed education programme driven by technical, scientific and technological methodologies.”

Foster said the signing “represents another milestone for football not only in Jamaica, but regionally … and is a legacy from which generations of footballers will benefit”.

Foster continued: “The signal work of Mr. Tofoni, CEO of World Eleven Inc. and his team in facilitating this historic partnership; the stewardship and foresight of President Samuda in identifying and negotiating opportunities for the benefit or our membership and stakeholders; and my own passion to build viable partnerships within and beyond Jamaica that give meaning to lives in sport are motivated by service, an opportunity for which our colleagues and ourselves are grateful.

“Football is the winner today. Football is the victor today. And I am pleased that the JOA, World Eleven Inc. and the JFF, inspired by our stakeholders, have been able to champion the cause,” said Foster. “I have every confidence that we will be successful.”

World Eleven Inc., together with the AFA, are developing the AFA Football Technology Institutes (AFA FTI), which are football schools where all the experience of the last 40 years of the AFA is reflected and enhanced by the implementation of technology and software, and are seeking to expand the bases of sports practice for boys and girls from the age of five (5) onwards.

The mission of these institutes is to create spaces where boys and girls can learn and practice soccer/football in promoting social integration, inclusion, friendship teamwork, respect and excellence while experiencing the positive principles of Argentine football culture such as passion, joy for the game and healthy competition.

Tofoni, speaking through an interpreter, said he was impressed with the opportunity for developing boys and girls, particularly through a long-term partnership, adding “…I want to acknowledge the importance of technology that is going to help with the development of football”.

The World Eleven CEO also expressed satisfaction at executing the project despite the COVID-19 challenges and expressed a hope “that the culture of Argentina will be passed on to Jamaica through this contract”.

Tapia, the AFA President, extended “a warm welcome to everyone”, while bemoaning the pandemic’s influence for “not being there today to sign the document”.

A key player in the agreement, Argentina’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis Fernando del Solar Dorrego, admitted a realisation of “… the love we have for Argentina’s football based on the shirts of Maradona and Messi” worn in Jamaica.

“Of course, having noticed this, I had conversations with different persons, including Mr. Samuda, and because of the discussions this is where we are now,” added Ambassador Dorrego.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President, Michael Ricketts, welcomed the opportunity to build its capacity.

“Like the Argentinians said, it is the first time they are signing any such arrangement with a Caribbean country. This certainly will build on our capacity from a technical standpoint and certainly from an administrative standpoint. They will help us to train our coaches and reorganize our offices across the length and breadth of Jamaica, both locally and at the national level,” said Ricketts.

“This is something that must positively impact the sport and we want to ensure that even from a grassroots level they would have helped us with our little boys and girls from a technical perspective,” he added. “So the JFF is very delighted and we are hopeful that years down the road we will see the fruits of today’s labour.”

Sophia Smith Butler, a woman believed to be the mother of Jamaican football player Kyle Butler is standing behind her son, who earlier this week accused his father of physically abusing him.

“I stand with my son and support him 100 per cent in the statements he has made. The days of slavery are done and over,” the mother posted on Facebook this morning in what is the latest twist to the developments that began days ago when the 22-year-old Butler posted disturbing pictures of what he said were injuries suffered at the hands of his father, football agent and coach Craig Butler.

“I’ve had enough of this abuse and it’s time u understand,” Kyle posted on social media Monday while revealing wounds he said he said he suffered during an attack while training at Mona High School.

Later that evening he posted again. “My mother has been abused mentally and physically by this man for several years. “I really don’t want to put this out in the media but you should all know the pain and the abuse that I’ve been enduring since I was 9 years-old….that my mother has been enduring”.

The elder Butler has since denied those claims in a statement released to the media on Tuesday.

“Let me categorically state that I have not been abusive to my son on that date or any other date. I have encouraged him and helped him to achieve his full potential. I have worked hard to create opportunities for my son of which he enjoyed for years,” Butler said in a statement.

However, in an interview on Nationwide Radio on Tuesday, Kyle backed up his statements and provided detail on the physical abuse he said his father inflicted on him. Those claims have now been given additional credence by the mother, who said the family and her boys have suffered long enough.

“People owning other people are done and over. Our creator does not even force us to worship him, he gives us free will,” she wrote.

“Yet mere creatures of dust believe they should demand people to bow at their feet and be subjected to abuse, robbing them of their human rights and dignity. When you take that, what is left? The damage that one narcissistic personality can do to the lives of others is literally unimaginable.”

She invited any friend on friends list who is a talented writer to reach out to her to inbox her, as she seeks to put her experiences into a book she intends to publish.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz turned the table on Saudi Arabia with a come-from-behind 2-1 win, in Riyadh, on Tuesday.

The victory comes on the back of the Jamaican national team suffering a 3-0 loss on Saturday, which served to make it a difficult return to international football after a months-long break.

On Tuesday, it was once again Saudi Arabia that struck first, in the 29th minute.  Abdullah Al-Hamdan finished off a sweeping counter-attacking move that had resulted from a poorly cleared defensive effort.

This time, however, the Jamaicans struck back through English-based player Daniel Johnson, in the 64th minute.  Loosely marked at the edge of the area, the player’s superbly shot curler nestled into the top corner of Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Yami’s goal.

Playing with much more confidence than the first encounter, the Jamaicans would get the all-important goal in the 34th minute.

Striker Javon East caught the Saudi Arabia backline in possession and surged to goal before lifting the ball over Al-Yami.  The match marked a special milestone for Jamaica coach and former national player Theodore Whitmore as he was coaching his one-hundredth game for Jamaica's senior team after a stellar career where he played over 100 games.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has expressed hope that the suspension of national footballer Junior Flemmings by the USL Championship, for the use of derogatory language, serves as a ‘teachable moment' to all players.

Flemmings, a Phoenix Academy player, was suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed sum following an investigation into allegations that he used “foul and abusive language” against a San Diego Loyal player last week.  At the start of the second half, Loyal players and staff - including their manager, United States icon Landon Donovan - returned only to take a knee before walking off the pitch.

The player, who is currently on administrative leave, could also face further punishment by the club.  The JFF, in a letter released on Thursday, expressed solidarity with the USL’s decision and disappointment with Flemmings.

 “The JFF would like to make it clear that we abhor foul, abusive, or discriminatory language. We are indeed disappointed, and we impress upon our players both locally and internationally, to be mindful of their expressions within and without a game,” the letter stated.

“Every player should use this incident as a teachable moment while they maintain professionalism even under pressure or provocation,” it added.

“We truly hope that Flemmings will quickly pick up the pieces and maintain the great scoring form if and when he is called to the National team.”

The suspension means that Flemmings will miss all of the 2020 USL Championships playoffs. He had scored 14 goals in 14 matches for the Phoenix Rising.  The 24-year old has made 10 appearances for the Jamaica national team.

 

Junior Flemmings of Phoenix Rising has been banned for six matches for a homophobic insult aimed at San Diego Loyal's Collin Martin.

The Jamaican was found to have directed "foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur" at Martin, who is the only openly gay player in football in the United States.

The incident in last Wednesday's USL Championship match prompted San Diego to walk off the pitch in protest. The referee had mistakenly sent Martin off, apparently thinking he was the abuser as he reported Flemming's comments to the officials.

A heated discussion between head coach Landon Donovan, opposite number Rick Schantz and the referee followed. San Diego returned to the pitch after half-time but only to take a knee before walking off again.

Flemmings issued a statement on social media denying the abuse, but Rising placed him on administrative leave last Thursday while the USL conducted an investigation into the incident.

The USL Championship is one tier below Major League Soccer in the United States.

On Tuesday, the league confirmed the punishment: stating: "The USL Championship announced on Tuesday, following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, that it has issued a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine to Phoenix Rising FC's Junior Flemmings for the use of foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur during the club's match against San Diego Loyal SC on September 30.

"Per the player's contract, Flemmings could also be subject to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave.

"Flemmings' suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs."

Jamaica forward Dever Orgill will turn out for a new club in Turkey when the Turkish top division gets underway next month.

England manager Gareth Southgate is reportedly keen on blunting bold recruitment ambitions of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who have targeted a number of English players that qualify to play for the Caribbean nation.

According to recent reports, the JFF, through agent Devon Porter, has sought to make contact with a number of players that could qualify to represent the nation in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, by virtue of having Jamaican parents or grandparents. 

The list is said to include newly promoted Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, Everton's Mason Holgate, Manchester United's Mason Greenwood, and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who were all born to Jamaican parents.

The England manager has requested a meeting with the four players for Friday afternoon.  Southgate is expected to assure them of the possibility of playing for their birth country.  The England national football program has been guilty in the past of giving fringe players one of two caps, in order to end the pursuit of other potential nations, and never recalling those players again. 

Across England’s top four leagues there are said to be an estimated 124 players of Jamaican ancestry.  English-based Jamaican players played a crucial role in the country securing its only appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 1998.  The Jamaica team has already qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.  

Recently Theodore Whitmore spoke about carrying momentum from the CONCACAF Gold Cup into the region’s World Cup Qualifiers and it got me thinking.

Far more Jamaican footballers get opportunities today to go abroad and ply their trade as professional footballers than ever before. The island had always had a smattering of professionals but today, that dream is not nearly as far-fetched for those who grow up playing the game there.

But first, Jamaica got some help from overseas-born Jamaicans, who made up a significant portion of the squad that made a historic visit to the World Cup in France in 1998.

On that squad, though, there was an 18-year-old local, Ricardo Gardner, who had cemented his place at left-back during those qualifiers.

And while many may not see it that way, it was his performances at the World Cup and later, his professionalism at Bolton Wanderers, where he spent his entire career, that would kick the door open for Jamaican players.

But the moment that caught the eye of Sam Allerdyce, Bolton Wanderer’s coach at the time, could very well have been missed because it was literally, a moment.

Jamaica were down 1-0 to fellow debutants Croatia in their World Cup opener.

Truth be told, nobody expected anything less because even though Croatia were newcomers, their players were well-known professionals playing in big clubs all over Europe. Their ‘newness’ to World Cup competition really stemmed from the recent birth of their country.

Croatia was part of the country known as Yugoslavia, well-known for producing international teams and players of repute.

So Croatia weren’t really newcomers.

Gardner was, in all senses of the word, but he never played like one. He was confident on the ball and made good decisions throughout the game, even as Croatia proved dominant in a 3-1 win.

They would take the momentum from that victory all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup, eventually finishing third behind winners, France, and runners-up Brazil.

But before that, they did have to go through a moment of worry against the ‘lowly’ Jamaicans.

Trailing 1-0 courtesy of a Mario Stanic tap in at the 27th-minute marker, Jamaica were not overawed and stayed in the game.

On the stroke of half time, an attempted dribble down the left-hand flank was broken up by Croatia, but the interception came to the feet of Gardner who struck a perfect left-footed cross onto the head of Robbie Earle.

Earle rose high and powered home his header, Jamaica’s first of the World Cup, and Croatia now had work to do to get ahead in the game once more.

Gardner’s assist was noted. The vision to make the pass without a second touch, the timing, the accuracy, were noted by Allerdyce.

And when against Japan, who Jamaica beat 2-1, Gardner went on a mazy run, showcasing some fleet footedness before collapsing from sheer exhaustion from the effort, his contract with the then Championship outfit, was assured.

Today, 22 years later, Jamaicans are still benefitting from that cross.

Fresh from an enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jamaica international Leon Bailey will be hoping to have a telling impact against runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, similar to when the teams last met.

In a surprise 2-1 win for Bayer Leverkusen, it was the speedy winger who found the back of the net twice.  Bailey opened the scoring after sprinting onto Kevin Volland’s neat through ball, tore past David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard to unleash a right-footed thunderbolt beyond the outstretched glove of Manuel Neuer. Thomas Muller equalised but another lightning counterattack immediately afterward, saw Volland tee up Bailey again, this time to score a left-footed rocket.

More than two months after the fixture was scheduled to be played, the teams will meet on Saturday at BayArena.  The layoff has been a time of frustration for both players and fans alike, but the Jamaican reveals that he also took the time to reflect.

“From a mental perspective, coping with the lockdown was a bit chill for me because I had my family here,” Bailey told inews.

“It gave me a lot of time to reflect on everything that I needed to concentrate on more and, you know, just reflect on who I am.”

The winger had struggled to get going early season, his progress disrupted by injury, and then two red cards.

“To come back from injury is always a difficult thing to do. I’ve overcome it a lot of times, I’ve come back, I’ve scored goals and been [there] in important moments for the team, giving assists. So I’ve overcome them, it’s just for me to keep that going in a steady way.”

Cassava Piece, Grant’s Pen, Commons, and Stony Hill are some of the first communities in Jamaica to begin benefitting from the Leon Bailey Foundation.

Leon Bailey and his manager Craig Butler, through his Phoenix Academy, had announced recently, a partnership to help alleviate the inevitable hardships that would come to especially poorer communities amid economic downturn, a symptom of the spread of COVID-19.

According to reports, more than 100 people from the communities benefited from the foundation’s gift of groceries.  

“We see the needs of our people and will do our best to help where it counts most,” said Bailey, a Jamaican winger, who plies his trade for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga.

Before the spread of COVID-19 shut down football the world over, Bailey had been rumoured to have, not for the first time in his fledgeling career, been the target of English Premier League clubs. Chelsea FC have been banded about as frontrunners for the star’s signature after it was said the club had been preparing an £85 million bid.

However, there is also interest inside of Germany with Bayern Munich said to be on the lookout.

While there is no football and obviously no transfer business, Bailey has found a way to give back.

According to a report in the Jamaica Observer, recipients of groceries would be receiving every two weeks.

The package of groceries includes flour, rice, corned beef, salt fish, baked beans, sausages, condensed milk, cooking oil, and toiletries.

“We want to help as best as we can and are giving out packages each day, so they can at least cook food and be okay for the day, and tomorrow we come again,” said Butler, who is in Jamaica while Bailey remains in Germany.

In a video message, Bailey implored other sports stars and those who have the means to, to join in his campaign to help fight the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Anyone who wants to help the movement and play a part can reach out, and together we can overcome this obstacle. So, please, guys, be safe, stay strong and look forward to better days. Keep our fingers crossed and believe in God,” he said.

The foundation is a partnership among Bailey, the Phoenix Academy and Empire Entertainment.

Bayern Leverkusen star Leon Bailey has admitted it is a different feeling for players to compete in an empty stadium but agrees it is a necessary evil in light of the threat posed by COVID19.

The 22-year-old Jamaica international is expected to play a key role when the in-form German outfit takes on Scottish club Rangers, at Leverkusen's Bay Arena.  The match will, however, be missing a key element as it will be played behind closed doors, becoming a part of Europe's struggles to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

With over 1000 people having tested positive for the coronavirus in the country, the German Football League (DFL) decided to close games on a case by case basis.  The trend has already strongly taken root across Europe with many leagues opting for fan free matches.  It has already been confirmed that the second leg of the tie, in Scotland, will also be played behind closed doors.

“It affects us because football is for the fans.  Playing behind closed doors is always a different type of feeling,” Bailey told BBC Sports Scotland.

“But I mean we also have to think about the safety of others, and we have to do what we have to do,” he added.

“Our health come first.  Without health, there is no life.”

 

 

A confident Davion Ferguson, coach of triumphant Manning Cup champions Jamaica College, insists the team was always confident of turning the tables on St Andrew Technical (STATHS) a team that defeated them just two rounds prior.

 For the second consecutive match in a row Jamaica College were perfect from the penalty spot, after failing to find the goal against STATHS in regular time.  Just as they had against Kingston College in the semifinals, JC managed to turn the tables on a team that had gotten the better of them earlier this season. 

In the quarterfinal round, it was STATHS who triumphed 2-1, when it counted most it was JC who managed to repeat the result of the 2017 Manning Cup final to claim an unprecedented 30th title.  Despite heading into the final as slight underdogs Ferguson insists the team was always confident of getting revenge on their opponents.

“We were very confident.  We re-watched the video from the first game, and I believe I can say publicly that tactically we got that wrong, but we assessed ourselves and we came back here,” Ferguson said.

“We should have won it in 90 but in penalties, it was sweet the same,” he added.

“When set out in June to accomplish this and we did.  These boys are champions and it’s just tremendous.”

 

 

 The Manning Cup semi-finals between rivals JC and KC was marred after one player bit into the shoulder of his opponent and was slapped in return.

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