FIFA tells JFF to provide back-up power at Stadium
JAMAICA may not be able to stage night matches at the National Stadium during next year's final round of CONCACAF's World Cup-qualifying campaign if a crucial FIFA regulation is not met.
The world governing body for football has written to the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) instructing it to have standby power generation capabilities for the floodlights installed, or the Reggae Boyz may have to pursue their World Cup dreams in the sweltering Kingston sun in five home games against the USA, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras.
With only back-up power available for other areas of the country's prime sports facility, FIFA has ordered that auxillary power supply be put in place in keeping with article 11.2 of the FIFA Safety Regulations.
"In the event of a power failure, there shall be emergency lighting provided by a back-up power supply," the regulation said in part.
FIFA, in explaining the importance of enforcing the rule, said: "It is crucial for us to respect the game's defined kick-off time."
When contacted yesterday, Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL), the state-owned company that manages the National Stadium, confirmed the facility is not equipped with back-up power to run the lighting towers in the event of a Jamaica Public Service failure to deliver the energy.
Brown said as soon as he received the correspondence regarding the FIFA request, he and his team immediately went into action.
"We are looking to rent four standby generators for the floodlights, one for each tower," he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Brown could not say what the cost would be to provide the rented generators, or permanent ones, but conceded it would be a very expense exercise "that we can't afford to pay for".
Internet checks revealed that the prices of industrial standby power output systems range between US$12,000 (J$1,080,000) for a 25 kilowatt unit and US$30,000 (J$2.7 million) for the 125 kilowatt unit.
Before the first match date of the final round on February 6, 2013, FIFA inspectors will visit the National Stadium 30 days prior to ensure a back-up system has been installed. Failure to do so will result in Jamaica's games being played in early afternoon.
JFF president Captain Horace Burrell, in addressing editors and reporters at this newspaper's weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at Beechwood Avenue yesterday, said if the Federation was not able to host night matches, it could lead to financial disaster as many of the games are scheduled for weekdays.
"It will be very difficult as a lot of the games will be played in midweek and to disrupt a working day will be impossible. Plus, a lot of our players will be coming from overseas, so the cooler conditions will suit them," he said.
"I think we would be at a tremendous disadvantage, therefore, all would be urged to do whatever has to be done to install the generator," he said.
Burrell noted that standby power servicing the entire stadium will not only benefit football, but all users of the multi-purpose facility that was first unveiled in 1962 as part of activities to mark the country's political independence from Britain.
"We hope the IPL will take the necessary steps to install the generator because it's not only football that is going to need this, as this is an important piece of equipment which should have been there and we're hoping that since there is time, that this will be done," said the veteran football executive.
"We'll be keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best," he said.