JFF must resolve the pay dispute and move forwardMonday, March 29, 2021
Thankfully, despite the negatives, national football coach Mr Theodore Whitmore believes he came away with “positives” from last Thursday's 1-4 loss in their friendly international with the United States in Austria.
With the Concacaf Gold Cup set for July, and World Cup qualifiers to begin in September, Mr Whitmore should now be in the latter stages of fine-tuning. Instead, he found himself involved in another exercise that was of real value only in terms of talent spotting.
That situation flowed primarily from the disarray caused by the absence of the majority of Jamaica's established national players due to a pay dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
Of course, the novel coronavirus pandemic only made the situation worse.
The squad to Austria included many first-time invitees of Jamaican ancestry who live in Britain and play professional football there, as well as Jamaica-based players — out of competition for a year — because of restrictions related to COVID-19.
Coming together in Austria last week, the squad was left with very little time to gel. The Jamaicans were pushed back further since two players were unavailable because of positive COVID-19 tests.
In such circumstances, the Reggae Boyz were never going to seriously test the organised, well-prepared Americans who boast many high-quality, Europe-based players. Yet, the Jamaican fighting spirit came to the fore, and the team defended and counter-attacked admirably, despite lacking cohesion.
Though the USA led for most of the game, it took them until the last 10 minutes to score their third and fourth goals.
Given the makeshift circumstances, this was a commendable effort by the Jamaica team.
Mr Whitmore tells us that the contest “provided me with an opportunity to look at new talent and the chance to fit in the missing pieces [in the overall player pool]… My only concern was the local players... You could see the difference with them being out of competition and not playing [for over a year]…”
While Mr Whitmore refrained from calling names, we think we can say with assurance that, among the new players seen last Thursday, Mr Liam Moore, the commanding defender who captains English club Reading, is likely to have found favour.
The major challenge now is that there are no more windows for international competition ahead of the Gold Cup available to Jamaica.
Unsatisfactory though the situation is, Mr Whitmore and the Reggae Boyz's management will have to make do, as best they can.
Crucially, a way must be found to resolve differences between the JFF and those who made themselves unavailable last week.
Negotiations over pay are never easy, but with the right approach much can be achieved. To begin with, the big stick doesn't work. There needs to be empathy, humility, and good sense on all sides — administrators and players.
At bottom line it is important for both parties to remember their duty to the Jamaican people — badly affected by the pandemic — who are longing for their senior men's team to return to the World Cup stage for the first time since 1998.
The JFF and the players must find a way.
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