Sport Minister Grange scolds JFF for unauthorised training camp

Sport Minister Grange scolds JFF for unauthorised training camp

...urges stakeholders to respect process, work with Gov't for safe return of football

Sunday, February 21, 2021

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THE Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) was on Friday admonished by Minister of Sport Olivia Grange for its unilateral decision to host a training camp in January without approval from her ministry or the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The minister's displeasure was further underlined with the subsequent positive COVID-19 cases found amongst players who were called to the camp.

Grange met with some of the major players in football to express her disappointment at the actions of the JFF, and to provide direction on what she expected going forward.

Present at the meeting with the minister were Michael Ricketts, president, Jamaica Football Federation; Christopher Williams, chairman, Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL); Donovan White, director PFJL; and Suzette Ison, principal director, sports policy development and monitoring in the ministry.

Grange called the meeting to address “conflicting and/or inaccurate comments” in the media and to provide “guidance to both the JFF and the PFJL”.

In outlining the way forward for the Jamaica Premier League to have the Government's approval to commence training, Grange made it clear that the process must be followed and that there can be no physical gathering of the clubs or the national teams for training until approvals are granted by the director general of ODPEM, after first submitting an application through the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

“I was very disappointed with the breach which has led to the delay of the restart of football but I am hoping that with this meeting, in which I spoke frankly and we came to a clear understanding, [that] going forward there will be no misunderstanding. This is a very serious matter in light of the community spread of COVID-19, and all our actions have consequences.

“Therefore, no one can take unilateral decisions to commence training or competition, because the action of any person or organisation can directly impact the players and the country in general. I know these are difficult times so let us work together to overcome the challenges,” Grange said.

PFJL Chairman Williams said: “I, on behalf of all 12 Premier League clubs, am committed to full adherence of the process outlined and await the approval of our application which was submitted by the ministry to the director general.

“Our stakeholders — players, coaches and administrators — are feeling severe pain and suffering having not worked for 11 months, and we are wary of the potential negative social impact this can have on the society.”

White, however,assured the minister that, “The PFJL remains in full preparation for the Government's approval and subsequent league restart.

“The clubs have already advanced all registration requirements with the JFF registration guidelines, as well as the professional club licensing regime for Concacaf League qualification. Our new commercial and corporate partners are also in a heightened state of readiness for the go-ahead to be given,” White said.

JFF boss Ricketts gave a first commitment that his organisation would follow the process outlined by the minister going forward.

Only last month it appeared that football was nearing a return, with the announcement by the Government that the resumption of sports would be considered on a case by case basis; but that has been pushed back with a recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases on the island.

— Dwayne Richards

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