Court battle looms
Real Solid Action (RSA), the campaign team of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) presidential candidate Raymond Anderson, will know by the end of today whether it needs to take further action in seeking an injunction to delay Sunday’s election.
RSA drafted an appeal to the electoral committee which will oversee the election on the basis that several ethical breaches exist as it regards football’s world governing body FIFA’s Ethics Code.
The Jamaica Observer received a 10-page document drafted by RSA, which mentioned conflicts of interest, eligibility of candidates, and the disenfranchisement of voters and long-standing affiliates of the JFF as key areas of concern to be addressed.
RSA alleges that there is a conflict of interest, saying that electoral committee chairman Christopher Samuda, who is also the chairman of the JFF’s governance committee, and president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, should “recuse himself from the electoral committee on this breach alone”.
However, if Samuda, who is also an attorney-at-law, leaves the electoral committee, it then creates a void in that body.
“Chairman Samuda, having been disqualified from the committee, we have a lacuna (vacancy), as the members of the committee are not qualified to practise law as stipulated in Article 4(5) of the Electoral Code,” RSA says. “Further, the other members of the committee would not be properly constituted to proceed.”
RSA also mentions the involvement of Rudolph Speid, which it describes as “credible and irrefutable evidence” of another conflict of interest regarding the electoral process.
Speid, the chairman of Cavalier Football Club, is also seeking to be elected to the board of directors should the incumbent, Michael Ricketts, gain re-election. RSA also mentioned Speid being Samuda’s campaign manager during his election to the JOA presidency.
RSA says, based on FIFA’s Code of Ethics, Ricketts is not fit to contest the election because of a Supreme Court civil judgement against him for defamation in 2022. The court ordered Ricketts to pay $9 million in damages to Sporting Central Academy Chief Executive Officer Ainsley Lowe after ruling Ricketts acted in malice when he made comments during a radio broadcast which the court says amounted to a homophobic slur, which, based on the Jamaican Constitution, is defamatory.
RSA told the electoral committee that the court’s decision means Ricketts should be disqualified as he has breached Article 22.1 of FIFA’s Ethics Code which says, “Persons bound by this code shall not offend the dignity or integrity of a country, private person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions on account of race, skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason.”
RSA also mentioned another member of Ricketts’s slate as allegedly being involved in a criminal investigation for a threat, saying that based on the constitution, this person must also be disqualified.
RSA’s third key grouse arises from letters being sent from the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) to six parish football associations (FAs). The St James FA, Hanover FA, Westmoreland FA, Manchester FA, and Trelawny FA were all notified by COJ that they were not identified on its active list of registered entities. COJ told the St Elizabeth FA that its latest application for registration as a new company was rejected on October 7, 2021.
The Jamaica Observer understands that these FAs would have possibly been inclined to vote in favour of Ricketts’ slate. However, their status as unregistered companies, under the statute prevents them from voting as members of “Pillar 1” of the official delegates in the election.
But what are these pillars and what do they mean for the voting process?
Based on JFF’s constitution, 56 delegates are allowed to vote in the upcoming election. These delegates are placed in three “pillars”. The first pillar consists of the 13 parish associations, who have two votes each. This suggests that a potential for 12 votes in favour of Ricketts could be denied.
The second pillar consists of the top four clubs from the men’s and women’s premier leagues, as well as the top four clubs from the men’s and women’s tier-two leagues.
It is also understood that football clubs Racing United and Mile Gully are not officially registered companies and would also be ineligible to vote.
The third pillar is made up of other football stakeholders such as Professional Football Jamaica (organisers of the Jamaica Premier League), the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association, the Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association, the Jamaica Football Referees’ Association (JRA), the Jamaica Football Coaches’ Association (JFCA), Beach Soccer Jamaica (BSJ), and the Past Players’ Association.
RSA alleges that JFF board members created what it describes as “two paper associations to compete with and take away the legitimate voting right of existing groups”. These two affected groups, RSA says, are the JFCA, and BSJ.
“The JFF congress and board was misled and incorrectly advised that an entity called the ‘Jamaica Coaches’ Association’ had satisfied the constitutional requirements when they in fact are not even a registered entity and ought to be disqualified from voting, and any nomination they may have made be dismissed as null and void,” RSA says.
“The JFF board ignored [BSJ’s] application and instead accepted an application by a newly created group called ‘Beach Football Association of Jamaica Limited’ that was incorporated on October 17, 2023, long after Beach Soccer Jamaica has submitted their documentation to the JFF.”
The Jamaica Observer sought a comment from Ricketts but calls to his phone went unanswered, while General Secretary Dennis Chung declined to speak on the matter.
RSA spokesperson Carole Beckford says they hope to receive a response to their appeal by the end of the workday, as they understand that the electoral committee’s members are employed otherwise. But they are already planning other courses of action should they gain no feedback.
“We’re taking it as high as we can,” Beckford told the Jamaica Observer last evening. “This means we’re using all the procedures that are available to get an action, so to speak.
“All those issues were raised at the electoral committee, so that is what we are pursuing â€“ all the things that we believe are in breach that we have raised over the period from October to now, that at the meeting on Friday where we sat down with the electoral committee, which we haven’t gotten a response from. So, we’ve now sent it to the appeals, through the office of the general secretary, as per the constitution. That office is still the place where football matters are addressed. But we are not keen on getting any feedback from that side, so we figure we can get somewhere with the appeals committee.”
The JFF general election is set for Rusea’s High School in Lucea, Hanover, on Sunday.