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JFF has wounds that need healing

Friday, February 14, 2020

It is clear from the latest upheaval in the national football programme that the local governing body needs to engage in repair work that cannot be short term.

That the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is in a financial bind is no secret. Indeed, that reality was further highlighted by the lead story in our sport section yesterday reporting the senior Reggae Boyz's complaint that they are owed payments from last year's Concacaf Gold Cup and their final two matches of the Concacaf Nations League.

According to Mr Shaun Francis, the team spokesman, the players have received part payment for their fourth-place finish at the Gold Cup, and the percentages vary from 50 per cent to 30 per cent.

Mr Francis also said, in relation to the Concacaf Nations League, none of the players has been paid the appearance fee. “The only thing players have seen is per diem, and still we have not received 100 per cent of the per diem,” Mr Francis is quoted as saying.

However, JFF General Secretary Mr Dalton Wint, in response, said all players have received 50 per cent, and in some cases more, of the Gold Cup money. According to Mr Wint, football's world governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa), has some money for the JFF and as soon as that is received the JFF will address the payment issue.

However, he did admit that the JFF has a loss on the Gold Cup nearly US$300,000. That is a heavy hit which, on the face of it, appears to be one of the millstones around the JFF's neck at this time.

For the organisation to have any real effect and achieve its goals it needs to get its finances in order. If that is not done the issue of payment and the associated costs of running the national football programme at all levels will continue to haunt the JFF.

Readers will recall that just last September the senior women's team, the Reggae Girlz, threatened to strike ahead of the Olympic qualifiers due to the non-payment of salaries for work before, during and after the World Cup in France. This was despite their signing contracts with the JFF in May.

We also saw in December the Reggae Girlz's Head Coach Mr Hue Menzies resigning over payment issues and what he termed a lack of professionalism and disrespect shown by the JFF.

These are not new issues. They now need to be dealt with in a decisive manner, especially given the statement from the senior men's team that they don't trust the JFF, as well as the fact that, as Mr Francis pointed out, they should not be loaded with distractions going into World Cup qualifiers.

We know that JFF President Mr Michael Ricketts is a reasonable man who is open to dialogue, and we have no doubt that he has the best interest of the sport at heart. Mr Ricketts, we suggest, should call all the parties in this dispute together and arrive at solutions designed to heal the wounds and prevent a repeat of these ailments.

The JFF, we believe, has already made a good first step in that direction with the appointments of Messrs Dennis Chung and Rudolph Speid to its board of directors.

Mr Chung will serve as finance chairman and Mr Speid chairs the technical committee.

Both men bring expertise in their respective fields and can only add value to the federation's attempts to manage football as a business, thus ensuring its growth and development.