An untidy divorce

Saturday, January 12, 2013

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THE decision by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to sever ties with two Brazilian coaches, following the senior Reggae Boyz's shambolic display at the recent Caribbean Cup tournament in Antigua, has left many, including this newspaper, very uncomfortable.

For those who might have missed the context, the Reggae Boyz, the two-time defending Caribbean Cup champions, were eliminated at the preliminary stage of the two-zone, four-team format of the competition, with just a solitary point from their three games.

It was a wretched performance. The Reggae Boyz finished last of the eight teams with one goal registered in three games and three goals conceded. Jamaica, the only Caribbean team to have advanced to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, was the only team not to have won at least a game in the Caribbean Cup.

Their failure also denied the country important games at this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup Tournament to be held in the USA. The CONCACAF Tournament includes the best 12 teams from the region.

After that embarrassing display, president of the JFF Captain Horace Burrell quite understandably ordered that the Technical and Development Committee conduct a review to find out what went wrong in Antigua. It concluded with the technical director, Mr Walter Gama, and goalkeeper coach, Mr Armando Bracali, being found responsible for the disaster and axed from the programme.

Captain Burrell, in response to questions posed at a press conference, said: "...Gama was the man responsible for the entire technical aspect, and it was thought that the team was not properly prepared..."

Captain Burrell added that Mr Gama "lacked proactive leadership", while Mr Bracali was deemed to have "not shown enough teeth".

We find the Captain's explanation less than satisfactory, even irrational, when viewed in the context of the overall football programme.

In Mr Gama's case, as technical director of the entire football programme, he has seen not only the senior Reggae Boyz advance to the final phase of World Cup Qualifying, but also the Jamaica Men's Under-20 and Under-17 teams as well. This is the first time that all three teams are advancing to this stage in many moons.

This record does not suggest that Mr Gama lacks "proactive leadership".

It is just as mysterious in Mr Bracali's case, for how can a goalkeeper coach be held responsible for a team's demise when it concedes just three goals in three games, while scoring just once?

We note the leak to the press prior to the announcement of their dismissal, that both gentlemen had signalled their intentions not to return to their positions in Jamaica, primarily because of difficulties the JFF had in meeting their salaries on a timely basis.

Messrs Gama and Bracali, as well as senior assistant head coach Mr Alfredo Montesso, and Under-20 head coach Mr Luciano Gama, son of Walter, were originally lured to Jamaica by a package deal worth US$50,000 per month.

Senior head coach Mr Theodore Whitmore and his assistant Mr Montesso were both spared the axe, another stark anomaly, though we strongly believe that it would have been counterproductive to dismiss either.

We really would have found the JFF to be far more credible had it simply said that the termination of Messrs Gama's and Bracali's services was due to financial constraints at this time.

No one would have had their reputations sullied, and there would have been no suspicion of a cheap shot in an untidy divorce.




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