Paul Hall has been appointed assistant coach to Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore for the Gold Cup and the duration of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Leon Bailey and Michail Antonio will not be available for the Reggae Boyz matches against Japan and Serbia that have been scheduled for June as Jamaica’s senior squad continues its preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and the World Cup qualifiers in September.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has welcomed the Jamaican government’s decision to grant approval for the resumption of Jamaica’s Premier League after more than a year of inactivity because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Football was suspended in March 2020 after the virus began to spread across the country.

However, after months of meetings and deliberations, the decision to allow for the resumption of football was announced today by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie following a meeting between representatives of the Ministries of Health and Wellness, and Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Premier League Clubs Association, the Jamaica Football Federation, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the Social Development Commission.

“We have been meeting for some time to ensure that all possible mechanisms concerning the efficient prevention and management of COVID-19 are applied to all aspects of Club competition, including the health and safety of players, referees and Club workers and administrators. Further details regarding the starting times and the conditions under which the competitions will be held, will be disclosed at a later date,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Even as the management of COVID-19 remains paramount, the Government is keen for sport to resume in a phased, orderly manner, consistent with the continued reduction in the country’s positivity rate. The impact of sport on social well-being and social development is well recognized, and the Government will support all efforts to promote the enjoyment of sport in the safest way possible. In this regard, the Government is actively considering applications from a range of sporting associations.”

JFF President Michael Ricketts welcomed the news.

“This is very positive news for the stakeholders of football,” Ricketts said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Of course, my first thoughts are with our players and coaches who will now have opportunities open to them to resume the trade that they so love. I also want to commend and thank the partners who have invested, for their patience and loyalty to the sport.

“Finally, thanks to the ministries and state agencies for the work done to get us here. While I am sure the players are overjoyed with the news, I implore them to be constantly mindful of the current local health conditions and act responsibly. While we play, let’s play our part in containing this pandemic. Let the games begin.”

The approval was given for the format that allows clubs to train at their home grounds with the official matches to be held at central venues. Most recently, the PFJL had developed a protocol for the official matches to be held in a controlled environment based on the significant upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica starting in February. However, with the success of the most recent measures that have cut back the number of new cases, all parties were satisfied that the previous model would align with the current measures.

There is also greater confidence with the start of national vaccination efforts.

The JFF will now work to finalize the design of the format for the official matches following the delay in receiving approval and the resulting shortened season. The JFF will also have to integrate the Jamaica Premier League matches with those on the national and regional calendars as both the Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifiers are being held in the coming months.

Details of the start, duration and league format will be shared in the coming days.

Like most sporting events globally, the Jamaica Premier League will be held without spectators in order to contribute to the nation’s efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, fans will be able to enjoy the matches as the PFJL has secured a broadcast partner for the Caribbean who will be responsible for identifying television broadcasters for Jamaica and the region.

Acting General Manager of the PFJL, Arlene L. Martin was very pleased with the go-ahead.

 “The PFJL appreciates the government’s recognition of the importance of the resumption of professional football as well as the confidence in the approved protocol and the ability to comply with these measures. The PFJL has worked with our national and regional stakeholders to develop a thorough protocol that we are confident will support and even enhance the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to an exciting season with the Clubs and our commercial partners and to delivering quality football to our fans.”

Southampton star Nathan Redmond is yet to make up his mind regarding his international future, after recently receiving confirmed interest for his services from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Earlier reports had suggested that the 27-year former England U-21 representative was among a number of players that had decided to switch their allegiances to Jamaica after being approached by the JFF.

 The player had, however, later rejected those claims, insisted he was yet to be contacted by the JFF regarding the option of joining the country’s national program.

"I’ve not been contacted. I’ve heard some stories and seen a lot of stuff in the media, but no one from the international set-up in Jamaica has contacted me,” Redmond had told UK publication The Daily Echo.

 "So, I’m seeing it exactly the same way as everybody else is."

A recent update, however, indicates that the player was contacted three weeks ago, and he is now carefully considering the decision.  Redmond had also previously indicated that the decision would include his family.

"I’ve not really spoken to my family about some of that stuff as of yet,” he had said.

"Obviously, it’s been difficult to see people during lockdown. So, I’ve not really spoken to the family about that,” he added.

"That’s a decision I guess for all of them to make with me, because I’m quite close with my family and whatever I do football-wise impacts them and our lives."

A number of players, including West Ham star forward Michail Antonio and Swansea’s Jamal Lowe, have already accepted the invitation to join the Jamaica national team, who will begin competing in the final round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers later this year.

After being at loggerheads over wages for the past few weeks, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the Reggae Boyz have reached a contractual agreement that now allows the focus to return to the coming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Two members of the Reggae Boyz delegation in Austria for their international friendly against the United States on Thursday have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, the Jamaica Football Federation announced today.

The members of the delegation were tested when they arrived in Austria earlier today.

The players have been isolation in their hotel rooms in keeping with UEFA protocols while they await another test before any activity can be initiated.  All the players subsequently took a PCR Covid-19 test with the results due 12 hours later.

Ten England-based players including Adrian Mariappa and Michael Hector, are among those who are now in Austria.

 

President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Michael Ricketts, has admitted that the team’s preparation ahead of the upcoming friendly against the United States is less than ideal, as the team will be without some of its best players for the encounter.

With the JFF and some national representatives yet to agree to terms on player contracts, several players will not suit up for the friendly.  President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts, however, believes the situation is an opportunity.

“The show must go on,” he said. “We will be missing some of our best players, but this game provides a perfect opportunity for coach Whitmore to see other players who could possibly help to bolster his squad going forward. It is not a perfect situation, but it could be useful.”

At least one member of a 15-man local squad, called by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to prepare for the upcoming friendly against the United States, tested positive for the coronavirus and is now isolating at home.

The rest of the contingent, including head coach Theodore Whitmore, ancillary staff, and administrative staff, tested negative for the virus and are now in camp at the UWI/JFF/Captain Horace Burrell Centre.

The local unit will train at the venue for the next few days before leaving on the weekend of the 20th to join the overseas-based players, who will fly directly to Austria by March 22.  The match will take place on March 25th at the SC Wiener Neustadt.  The match will be Jamaica’s first international friendly since they faced Saudi Arabia over two legs, in November of last year.

 

 

 

 

 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and national players have reportedly moved close to securing a deal after protracted and acrimonious negotiations.

According to reports, the latest counter-offer from the representatives of the players is a lot closer to what the JFF had initially offered and is now being considered by the body.  The parties are scheduled to meet to discuss the latest offer in short order. 

Initially, the parties had been miles apart on wage demands with the group of national players demanding US$7,000 ($1,039,068) per match, for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and the JFF insisting that based on expenditure it was unable to go above US$2000 ($296,876).  However, according to JFF committee chairman Rudolph Speid the latest submission is much closer to what the JFF can afford.

“The players actually made a late submission to us yesterday.  They’re our players, we are not enemies, so we want to have a peaceful resolution," Speid told Television Jamaica.

“Of course, we are still determined that we have a plan that we have to stick to, but we are willing to listen to the players and we are going to be meeting with them again,” he added.

“They have come down substantially.  We are closer now than we have ever been before.”

Although Speid did not go into specifics, the new wage demand from the players is reported to be US$3000 ($445,315) and a US$2000 ($296,876) win bonus for the World Cup qualifiers.  However, a major sticking point is likely to be the team's demand for half of the US$8m ($1,187,507,200), prize money provided to the JFF by FIFA for qualifying for the tournament.  The amount the players would receive in that scenario would be US$4m ($593,753,600).

Jamaica Reggae Boyz shot-stopper, Andre Blake, believes a lot more can be done by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to secure the funding necessary to meet or at least go close to the wage demands of the national players.

With the time running out for the deadline to sign contractual obligations, the parties remain far apart in terms of wage demands put forward.  The Reggae Boyz have asked for US$7000 ($1,050,895) per player, per match for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.  The JFF has insisted that, due to financial constraints, US$ US$2000 ($300,256) is the highest that they are able to offer.

“I think that there can be a lot more marketing done to get sponsors on board and there are a lot more ways that funds can come in to compensate the players,” Blake told the SportsMax Zone.

“I think that there’s a lot more that can be done.  I don’t think there’s enough being done.  It’s almost like I am asking someone to come and work for me and that person must figure out how they are going to get paid or how I am going to pay them.  Our job is to come and play not to worry about how we are going to get paid.  The JFF has a job and they must do their job," he added.

With a 22-man squad, the players’ current demands could see the federation spend US$2,156,000 ($323,675,752) on wages for the 14-match World Cup qualification round.

 

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts has called on the country’s national players to be ‘reasonable’ and ‘balanced’ in their demands, given what the organisation has laid out as severe financial limitations.

With one day left before the deadline to sign contracts for the upcoming campaigns, the JFF and representatives of some national players remain far apart on wage demands.  The JFF has submitted a final offer of US$2,000 (300,255.80) per match, per player for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, the players have, however, requested US$7,000 ($1,050,895.30).

According to Ricketts, however, the offer made by the JFF is grounded in the reality of what the federation can afford and as a result, is unlikely to be adjusted.

“We are still waiting and hoping for an amicable settlement.  I do hope that the players will be reasonable and balanced in whatever they decide to do.  I hope that they will agree to something that is manageable,” Ricketts told TVJ Sports.

“The committee has been having talks in recent times with the lawyer who represents some of the players.  How many of the players he legitimately and legally represents we are not sure but we want to ensure that we do have a relationship with our players,” he added.

The JFF president, however, warned that some players run the risk of being left out of the program if no agreement can be reached in time.

“I want to say that if a player insists that he is not signing for what we can afford to pay, then we are not going to hold anything against that player or particular players but the show has to go on, and if there are players willing to play and some who are not willing to play then we will have to go with those who are willing to play,” Ricketts said.

The ill-advised decision of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to stage an impromptu and unapproved national camp, and the resulting positive Covid-19 cases, has played a part in delaying the sport’s resumption.

Earlier this month, the JFF landed in hot water after convening a national camp at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence without the requisite government approval.  The camp was shut down but not before at least six players and one official tested positive for COVID-19.

In a meeting on Friday, between sports minister Olivia Grange, the JFF, and representatives of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), meant to chart the way forward, the minister expressed her disappointment with the incident.  She also pointed out that any approval for the sport’s restart must include strict adherence to health protocols.

“I was very disappointed with the breach which has led to the delay of the restart of football but I am hoping that with this meeting, in which I spoke frankly and we came to a clear understanding, going forward, there will be no misunderstanding. This is a very serious matter, in light of the community spread of COVID-19, and all our actions have consequences,” Grange said.

“Therefore, no one can take unilateral decisions to commence training or competition because the action of any person or organisation can directly impact the players and the country in general. I know these are difficult times, so let us work together to overcome the challenges,” she added.

In response, both President of the JFF Michael Ricketts and PFJL Chairman, Christopher Williams, committed to both organisations following protocol and expressed eagerness for the return of local football.

With the exception of the national camp, organised football has not been played on the island since last March when the leagues and national programs were shut down in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The Jamaica Football Federation and the Reggae Boyz made the first important move towards rapprochement and a unified, happy and prepared team leading into the World Cup qualifiers this September, said a statement from the JFF on Thursday.

The players are out of contract and both sides say they are willing to work as hard as possible to arrive at an agreement before the next FIFA window in March.

More than 20 players met with a committee put together by JFF President Michael Ricketts in what they described as a ‘very amicable atmosphere’ on Tuesday. 

The players agreed that the meeting went well and that it augurs well for future discussions.

"The players can confirm that we did in fact have discussions with the JFF on Tuesday,” the Reggae Boyz said in a statement obtained by Sportsmax.TV on Thursday.

“They have promised to share a draft contract, and we have asked that they give us two weeks after receipt of that contract for consultation and review. We consider this a step in the right direction".

The players, including captain Andre Blake and Damion Lowe, were presented with the current JFF financials and brought up to speed with the immediate to medium-term plans of the federation, the federation said.

“They were allowed as many questions as needed and then presented with documents which they will peruse among themselves for two weeks. Another meeting will be scheduled then.”

The JFF team was led by Head of the JFF Financial Committee Dennis Chung and was comprised of former President of the Cricket West Indies Dave Cameron, JFF Vice Presidents Raymond Anderson and Peter Reid as well as Technical Committee chairman and Chartered accountant Rudolph Speid.

Voting statutes under review at JFF

The issue regarding the number of delegates who vote at the Congress of the Jamaica Football Federation is under review for change, according to President the Jamaica Football Federation Michael Ricketts.

Ricketts was speaking at the Annual General Meeting held in St Mary last Saturday. “We have begun work on the revision of the statutes under the guidance of FIFA,” Ricketts said.

Discussions surrounding the issue began with a FIFA representative who visited the island in 2020.

Since then, FIFA has sent some proposals that are being examined by a task force that was established by the Board (JFF) and which has provided responses to FIFA. “This is a process that you as a delegate and the broader football fraternity will be actively involved in as decision-makers,” Ricketts said.

“I want to re-assure and commit that in the coming period through all means available to us, face to face, through town-hall meetings or virtually, stakeholders will be part of the process of discussion before the final decision at congress.”

There are a number of best practices that will be part of the process of the review.

Ricketts said a review of the definition of memberships with the aim of widening and deepening the current membership structure is taking place.  “The representation here at our annual general meeting as well as voting rights at Congress could change based on best practices,” Ricketts stated.

The change, to reduce the delegates from over 130 to the existing 13 was made under former president the late Captain Horace Burrell.

Mr. Ricketts also said that the ongoing review and consultation involves term limits.

 

 

The Jamaica Football Federation has managed to slash a sizeable portion of its JMD$300m debt as of the end of 2020, President Michael Ricketts announced at the federation’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday.

According to the beleaguered president, the JFF has managed to slash its debt to JMD$238 million.

“We have worked diligently to cut costs wherever we can even with limited sponsorship,” he said. “This year will be particularly challenging as we have the World Cup qualifiers to fund.”

Ricketts pointed to some of the positives that have taken place recently under his watch and explained why the country’s football is headed in the right direction, even in the face of a pandemic. He was particularly happy that the wheels are in motion to get local players on the field of play.

“We are very happy that just Wednesday of this week the Ministry of Culture, Entertainment and Sports announced that arising out of discussions with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Technical teams from both ministries will begin a series of meetings with the sporting associations regarding the resumption of some of their activities,” Ricketts said.

“I, therefore, use the opportunity to advise you that as per this communication, all requests for training and competitions or events must be submitted to the Ministry of Sports.

He reiterated that clubs, affiliates and event organisers must submit any request through the JFF. “The JFF has been very deliberate in working positively with the ministries and meeting the requirements to ensure that football returns as soon as it is possible to do so,” he said.

 “We intend in these discussions to not only discuss the Premier League but all competitions at the parish level including youth and women’s football.”

The football president was happy with the progress made by the Premier League Interim Committee (PLJIC), a body which he commissioned at the start of 2020.

“We asked the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Mr Christopher Samuda to chair this committee and we invited members of the Premier League clubs; representatives of the JFF board and some independent persons to sit on this committee. The mandate was to review the existing commercial, operational and governance structures, policies and arrangements of the National Premier League (NPL) and recommend proposals for the improvement of these structures, policies and arrangements and prepare a three-year business plan covering 2020/21 through 2022/23 seasons.”

This body represents the single most fundamental game-changer in the sports and we are already seeing the outcomes.

He pointed to the formation of the new entity called Professional Football Jamaica Limited which was formed to initially drive the commercialization of the league and overtime all professional competitions. Over $100 million dollars in sponsorships and partnerships have been garnered over the last three months.

Ricketts pointed out that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the PFJL and the JFF which outlines the relationships between the two bodies and clearly states the responsibility between both. Under the MOU, the JFF retains responsibility for operations and regulations of the league.

 

 

 

 Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) director of football, Wendell Downswell, believes the continued absence of the country’s youth football programs and competitions will have a devastating impact on the sport over the next few years.

All official football competitions across Jamaica have been shuttered since March of last year, as the island battled to come to grips with the spread of the deadly coronavirus.  Included in that list are the island’s Premier League competition and all high school football competitions.

Both competitions typically cater to the need of developing players Under 21 years old who are selected for youth national teams and even acquire scholarships to overseas colleges through them.  

With the recent decision by FIFA to postpone the 2021 U-17 and U-20 World Cup and CONCACAF’s decisions to postpone the respective qualifiers, things are essentially at a standstill.

“You won’t see it immediately but in years to come, probably starting in 2023, you will see the results as it relates to our youth football itself,” Downswell told Football GPS.

“Youngsters if you look at it, in three categories, in four categories, at high school you have the U-14, Under-16 and of course the Manning Cup and DaCosta Cup.  At the parish level, you have the Under-15 competition, at the club level, you have the Under-14 competition that takes on an international flavor.  If you look from there you make the transition into the Under-15, Under-17, and the Under-20 national teams and you are looking at both sets of national teams, male and female," he added.

"If we look at it from the perspective that the schoolboy football competition has been abandoned because of COVID, you know the schoolboy competition provides us with a means to identify talent at both the schoolboy level and club level and when that’s not forthcoming it put a damper on our football.”

 

 

 

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