Sports

JFF scores with FIFA summit

...Ricketts says successful staging could yield wide range of benefits

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts has hailed last week's FIFA Executive Football Summit (FIFA EFS) as a huge success in many ways.

The one-day workshop, held at the Convention Centre in Montego Bay last Thursday, was aimed at enhancing the relationship between FIFA and its member associations at a top executive level, and to provide a democratic platform for information exchange.

A total of 18 member associations from three confederations — Africa, Europe and CONCACAF — converged on the island's tourism capital to debate and discuss matters relating to the world's most popular sport.

The event saw 44 members, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, participating in a robust and intense, yet fruitful, day-long forum. The member associations were represented by their presidents and general secretaries.

Ricketts, like the FIFA president, was ecstatic at day's end, and not just with the first-class handling of the event by local stakeholders, but at the potential benefits to be derived.

“The truth is that today (Thursday) went very well and I want to use the opportunity to congratulate the staff members of the JFF headed by Janice (Rose Brown),” beamed Ricketts shortly just after exiting a media session headed by Infantino, CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani and himself.

“Everybody (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Sport, the Convention Centre, Budget who provided transportation, and of course Half Moon) came in and I think it was a huge success.

Certainly [with] the diverse members here from Africa, Europe and CONCACAF. So the first positive thing was meeting these people, sharing with them, discussing the different footballing cultures,” added Ricketts, who was elected president of the JFF last September to fulfill the remaining two years of the late Captain Horace Burrell's four-year tenure.

The excellent administrative competencies aside, Ricketts was left salivating at the prospects of forging much more meaningful alliances with officials from some of the member associations which visited.

“The president and general secretary from Kenya were very excited about playing a game against us in London, so immediately we will start working on that. And the guy from Northern Ireland has an interest... two of our Caribbean neighbours do have interests, Sierra Leone's football president is a female and she has a serious interest in playing against us,” revealed Ricketts.

“Jamaica is a brand, they know about Bob Marley, they know about Gregory Isaacs, they know about Peter Tosh, they know about Usain Bolt, and it was truly an experience and everybody seemed to have been excited,” he added.

Ricketts, the former Clarendon Football Association president, who had been an executive member of the JFF for many moons, was very optimistic that some of these initial contacts will bear fruit in the near future.

“I would think that we would have got no less than seven or eight offers today and, like I have said before, we had written to all the countries that would have qualified for the World Cup that would be engaging CONCACAF teams.

“Germany and England immediately responded to say that they would have already set up their schedules so they couldn't even have a discussion with us.

“The first positive response we got was from South Korea, so we have six or seven that's pending, so we are hopeful that we will get a game or games from some of these countries. But we have two Caribbean countries who really want to engage us and of course those persons that we spoke with today, so we are optimistic that the window that comes up in March we will have a game. the only unfortunate thing is that it is the exact week of Boys' and Girls' Champs, so that will pose a challenge, but we will definitely see how best we can work around that.”

Ricketts thought the forum went well and was “very detailed” in its execution.

“They broke down the main areas on the agenda (youth football, development of youth football and competitions, Forward Programme, women's football, the World Cup, the transfer system and international match calendar) in parts where groups were asked to discuss these areas then make presentations,” he explained.

These key findings are to be fed into various decision-making bodies such as the FIFA Council and ultimately the FIFA Congress.

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