Are the JAAA, PUMA still in love?

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Monday, February 04, 2013

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The long-term relationship between the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and German sporting goods giants PUMA could be in doubt as it is understood that the JAAA has written to them seeking a meeting to discuss an amicable parting of ways, the Jamaica Observer has learnt.

Well-placed sources told this newspaper that the JAAA had located their copy of the contract and had written to PUMA seeking a meeting. It was heard, however, that PUMA were still to respond up to late last week.

The length and contents of the PUMA contract with the JAAA was topical during last year's JAAA elections and Dr Warren Blake, who was then seeking re-election, had said they could not locate their copy of the contract and he had no idea what was included in it.

Attorney-at-law Lincoln Eatmon, who challenged Blake for the office of president of the JAAA, had also questioned the contents of the PUMA deal in the run-up to the election.

When contacted late last week about the JAAA seeking a meeting with PUMA, Blake declined to comment, refusing to either confirm or deny the reports saying only, "I can't comment on that".

Blake also told the Observer that no one in the organisation would be able to comment either.

Emails to Puma's representative Pascal Rolling were not answered up to the time of writing, but other sources told the Observer that PUMA representatives were due in the island soon but could not say specifically if it was to meet the JAAA.

In a response to questions last year, Rolling, the international running sport marketing manager at PUMA and the face of the German sporting goods company in Jamaica, had said then they did not want to get involved in any public utterances during the election period and some comments might have been made out of a lack of credible information.

While saying the almost 11-year relationship that started in 2002 has been beneficial to both the JAAA and other associations, including the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), schools and colleges, Rolling said then as far as the national teams go, the collaboration has not only benefitted Jamaica in terms of finances, but in other areas as well.

"We are here to support Jamaica and the Jamaican athletes to the best of our abilities. The service in terms of equipment for national teams has been dramatically improved since PUMA took over.

"On a communication level, our worldwide advertising campaign featuring Jamaican athletics has created major impact for our mutual benefit," he said then.

PUMA replaced Adidas and Reebok as gear sponsors for Jamaica in 2002, and according to Rolling, "the financial conditions offered by PUMA were far more lucrative for both associations back then and... have gradually been bettered to mirror the improved performance of the athletics teams".

Without going into details, Rolling pointed out then that under the terms of the present contract, the company will outfit Jamaican teams to the next two IAAF World Championships later this year in Moscow, Russia, and 2015 in Beijing, China, as well as the next Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, "independently of JAAA elections results".

A number of top Jamaican athletes, including double World Record holder and repeat Olympic sprint double champion Usain Bolt and London Olympic Games 110m hurdles bronze medallist Hansel Parchment are signed to the brand.

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