When, indeed, will we get it right?
We have been down this road before.
Once again, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the senior women’s team are at loggerheads over remuneration and the general dissatisfaction the Reggae Girlz feel in how the JFF goes about business as it relates to them.
Part of the argument is that the Reggae Girlz are demanding that they be paid the agreed 20 per cent of the US$1.8-million prize money from FIFA resulting from their historic run in this year’s Women’s World Cup.
But as we understand it, FIFA withheld US$600,000 of the amount, leaving the total payout to Jamaica of US$1.2 million. It is from this reduced sum it appears the JFF is prepared to pay the promised 20 per cent.
If that’s the case, then the Girlz may be within their right to demand payment from the original sum.
Also, the Girlz have taken the JFF to task over the manner in which a new coach was introduced on the eve of the inaugural Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup Qualifiers.
The Girlz are scheduled to play an away game to Panama on October 25 before hosting Guatemala on October 29. Their beef, which was documented in a social media statement, is with the lengthy delay in the appointment of a head coach following the departure of Mr Lorne Donaldson.
Mr Xavier Gilbert, an assistant to Mr Donaldson, was named interim head coach late Thursday, only four days before the team is scheduled to arrive in Panama for the match.
While we support our Girlz in their campaign to get all monies owed to them and their demand for greater respect in the sport, we disagree with their current stance. To withdraw their services in this fashion — an entire squad making itself unavailable for important assignments — borders dangerously on unprofessionalism and irresponsibility and could potentially harm Jamaica’s growing global profile and development in the game.
Too often in these situations it’s hard to see evidence that the parties involved have put the country first rather than trying to outmuscle each other around the bargaining table or in the court of public opinion.
It’s clear that the JFF has lost a measure of its authority over the women’s programme. We believe it started to slip away the moment it was pawned out to external benefactors due to a lack of internal financial support.
The response of JFF President Mr Michael Ricketts to the current crisis has come too late and could be seen as mistimed.
“Just because you are not satisfied and because we have not told you who the coach is, you’re going to make yourself unavailable? No, we have been strong, and we have taken a decision that we are not going to allow the players to dictate on this one,” Mr Ricketts was quoted in this newspaper.
He is correct, but the rhetoric could easily be misconstrued in a minefield of sensitivities.
Former head coach of the Girlz, Mr Charles Edwards, said it best in his frank assessment of the JFF’s role in all this.
“Another situation after such a high note and this is now where we’re dropping the baton in terms of capitalising on the momentum and developing the women’s programme. It’s very disappointing and my question to the JFF is: When will we get it right?…”
In all of this, however, comes opportunity as the second-string players who have been called up to fill the void have a stage to stake their claim in the team. Additionally, it’s a chance for them, and Mr Gilbert, to demonstrate that they have what it takes to perform at the highest level and against great odds.
We wish them luck.